Washington, D.C. – February 10, 2016 – (RealEstateRama) — U.S. Senator Heidi Heitkamp issued the following statement after the Supreme Court on Tuesday halted the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Power Plan rules on power plants until legal challenges to the rules are resolved.
“This is a result we thought could happen – at least in the short term – because these EPA rules would disproportionately hurt North Dakota and were written without taking into account the unique challenges utilities face in our state,” said Heitkamp. “Now that we have temporary relief, I’ll keep pushing for a permanent solution that will guarantee North Dakotans have affordable, reliable power while recognizing that we have to provide certainty through achievable emissions reductions on a reasonable timeline. When affordable, reliable coal provides 80 percent of North Dakota’s electricity – and supports 13,000 jobs in our state – it’s irresponsible to put policies in place that don’t provide a viable path forward for coal, and don’t invest in clean coal technology. We are building support in Congress for research into clean coal technology as it’s a needed stepping stone for progress that will reinforce our energy grid, reduce emissions, and enable the U.S. to continue to use a reliable, redundant source of energy.”
Last week, a bipartisan Heitkamp amendment to promote a solid path forward for coal was unanimously incorporated into the bipartisan energy bill the Senate is debating. Cosponsors of Heitkamp’s amendment to reach a viable solution for coal included progressive, moderate, and conservative senators, highlighting that a broad variety of senators agree on researching finding a path forward for coal. The amendment builds off the legislation Heitkamp and Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) introduced last year.
In October 2015, Heitkamp introduced a bipartisan bill with Republican Senator Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia to overturn the rule on existing power plants. The bill passed in the House and Senate, but was vetoed by the president.
Heitkamp has long expressed serious concerns about the Clean Power Plan’s impact on coal-fired power plants, which generate about one-third of the country’s electricity, and about 80 percent of North Dakota’s electricity. Heitkamp has also sought changes to make the rule workable for North Dakota. Coal supports 13,000 jobs in North Dakota, and mining has an economic impact of $3.5 billion.
Heitkamp’s work to find a realistic path forward for coal builds on her more than a decade of experience on the board of directors of Dakota Gasification, the one-of-a-kind synfuels plant in Beulah, N.D. During her service as North Dakota’s Tax Commissioner, on the North Dakota Industrial Commission, and as the state’s Attorney General, Heitkamp was able to work on viable solutions to make sure coal remains a strong part of the North Dakota’s energy mix.
Since joining the Senate, Heitkamp has been committed to finding a realistic avenue for clean coal by:
- Securing a commitment in September 2015 from Janet McCabe, assistant administrator of the EPA, for her agency to send technical staff to North Dakota to work with utilities on the challenges in meeting EPA’s emissions reduction targets. During a meeting with the North Dakota congressional delegation the next day, McCabe again agreed to Heitkamp’s request that EPA technical staff visit North Dakota.
- Introducing major legislation in 2013 and again in 2015 to put coal on a viable path forward. Heitkamp’s bill – which she introduced in 2013 and again this Congress – would incentivize companies to invest in technologies that reduce the carbon footprint of coal-fired power. This is done through federal funding programs, federal support for private investment, and recommendations to Congress that provide insight on how best to support future CCS projects in the U.S. Then in May 2015, Heitkamp and Senator Joe Manchin from West Virginia introduced aseries of bills to make sure coal remains a key part of America’s energy mix, which incorporated Heitkamp’s initial legislation.
- Bringing EPA Administrator to North Dakota to talk about coal. Heitkamp has made it clear to the Administration and EPA that she disagrees with the agency’s policies regarding coal-fired power. After pressing EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy, Heitkamp brought McCarthy to North Dakota in February of 2014 so she could hear about the impacts of EPA regulations directly from North Dakotans. Heitkamp has also brought U.S. Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz to North Dakota in March 2014 to push the U.S. Department of Energy for more investment in clean coal technology.
- Working closely with U.S. Energy Department (DOE) officials on finding a path forward for coal. Heitkamp has met with numerous top officials from DOE about the need to find a path forward for coal, including Energy Secretary Moniz and Julio Friedmann, the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Clean Coal at the DOE. They both participated in clean coal symposiums at Heitkamp’s request, and she will continue to press both of them on the issue.
- Convening industry, lawmakers, and academics to discuss a viable path forward for coal. Heitkamp co-hosted a Coal Technology Symposium on Capitol Hill last year that brought together industry, lawmakers, experts and academics – including the Energy and Environmental Research Center from Grand Forks – to discuss the importance of finding a viable path forward for coal. To a crowded room, Heitkamp laid out why it is so important for our nation to put in place realistic energy policies and discussed the vital role coal plays in providing affordable energy in North Dakota and around the country