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Representatives of electric co-ops and other organizations supporting Sen. Heidi Heitkamp at the announcement included (left to right): Mac McLennan, Minnkota Power Cooperative; Jason Bohrer, Lignite Energy Council; Dennis Hill, NDAREC; Perrie Schafer, Environmental Services; and Chris VendeVenter, Basin Electric Power Cooperative.



Sen. Heitkamp announces legislation for coal’s future
U.S. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) has announced major new legislation she is advancing that supports a viable regulatory path for coal’s use in producing electric power. Coal provides the United States with almost 40 percent of its electricity, and provides North Dakotans with 80 percent of their electricity. 
Flanked by coal-based energy industry leaders from across the state, Heitkamp unveiled the Advanced Clean Coal Technology Investment in Our Nation Act, last month in Bismarck. The bill intends to make it affordable for coal plants to lower their carbon dioxide emissions through the use of advanced clean coal technologies.

“The importance of coal for North Dakota cannot be understated. North Dakotans rely on coal for about 80 percent of our electricity and I’m committed to making sure this affordable, abundant energy source is available for North Dakotans for decades to come,” she said. In addition, Heitkamp said coal-based electric power generation is a major source of valuable employment in the state. 

The proposed legislation comes at a time when federal regulators are seeking to apply new rules applicable to the combustion of coal, and the atmospheric emission of carbon dioxide. The rules, being pursued by the Environmental Protection Agency, if enacted, would dramatically drive up the costs of constructing new coal-based electric power generation facilities, and the operating costs of existing coal-based facilities.

Sen. Heitkamp’s bill offers incentives to utility companies to invest in technologies that reduce the carbon footprint of coal-fired power. This is to be accomplished through federal funding programs, federal support for private investment, and reports to Congress that provide recommendations on how best to support future carbon capture and storage projects in the United States.

Electric cooperative leaders were among those joining Heitkamp for the announcement, including: Mac McLennan, CEO, Minnkota Power Cooperative, Grand Forks; Chris VendeVenter, legislative representative, Basin Electric Power Cooperative, Bismarck; Al Christianson, government affairs manager, Great River Energy, Underwood; and Dennis Hill, general manager, North Dakota Association of Rural Electric Cooperatives, Mandan. The Lignite Energy Council, Bismarck, and Jason Bohrer, CEO, hosted the announcement.

“It is important to realize the real-world costs for developing and implementing advance clean coal technologies, and this bill looks to provide some of the necessary funding that will hopefully drive down those costs over time,” McLennan said. “I thank Senator Heitkamp for her diligent work in ensuring coal continues to play a vital role in our energy future.”

Sen. Heitkamp said the legislation is designed to put the future of coal as an energy source into a secure place in the nation’s energy future.

“I’m offering a pragmatic solution – not just talk – to put coal on a sustainable path forward. It’s past time that our country has a true all-of-the-above energy strategy, and I’ll push my colleagues and the administration to support this bill to help us accomplish that goal,” Heitkamp said


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