WASHINGTON – Senators John Hoeven and Kent Conrad, and Governor Jack Dalrymple today called on EPA Deputy Administrator Bob Perciasepe and Principal Deputy Assistant Administrator Janet McCabe to defer to state regulators on key rules regarding the energy industry, specifically rules governing regional haze and decisions regarding the best available technology to control emissions. Representative Berg was represented at the meeting by Jonathan Caspar.

The Congressional Delegation and Governor also hand delivered joint letters to EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson and Assistant Administrator McCarthy addressing the two specific points of discussion at today’s meeting.

First, the state is asking the EPA to approve a plan by state environmental regulators to reduce regional haze. After years of preparation and data gathering, the state offered a detailed plan last March, which the EPA indicated in a November letter that they propose to reject.

“Congress left primary responsibility for the development of these plans to the states, and the fact that EPA might prefer something different is insufficient under the Clean Air Act (CAA) to disapprove state plans,” the Delegation and Governor said in their letter.

The second issue centers on the EPA’s rejection of the state’s selection of the “Best AvailableControl Technology” to reduce emissions at MinnkotaPower’s Milton R. Young Station in Center, N.D. Under an agreement between the EPA, MinnkotaPower and the state of North Dakota, the state Health Department’s Environmental Section was charged with developing a plan to retrofit the facility to reduce emissions.

The joint letter, addressed to Gina McCarthy, Assistant Administrator, Office of Air and Radiation,, concludes that based on the state’s long history of successfully implementing the Clean Air Act, the potential for damaging EPA’s relationship with the state, the legal costs and the unlikelihood that the EPA can meet the burden of proof required to overturn the state’s decision, “we ask that you personally assess this matter before the EPA moves this issue into the Federal Court.”

“We all support good environmental stewardship, and in fact, North Dakota meets all ambient air quality standards,” Hoeven said. “However, this is just the kind of regulatory policy on the federal level that is freezing investment and creating uncertainty in markets. By providing regulatory and legal certainty, as well as allowing more cost-effective technologies, the EPA can enable the energy industry to make large investments and create thousands of jobs.”

“The twin goals of protecting our environment and moving America toward greater energy independence must not be mutually exclusive,” Senator Conrad said. “With its oil, coal, natural gas and wind potential, North Dakota is poised to be an energy hub for the nation for years to come. We will continue to work closely with the EPA to ensure that our environment is protected in a common sense way and that our energy future is not compromised by a factual misunderstanding of the distinct quality of North Dakota lignite.”

“North Dakota’s natural resources are a great asset to our state,” Congressman Berg stated. “Yet the EPA’s decisions prevent North Dakotans from utilizing and protecting these resources in the way that we know will be most beneficial to our state. By dismissing the recommendations of North Dakota regulators, the EPA’s regulations will prevent job growth in our state and threatens the potential for continued investment and development in North Dakota.”

“We urge the EPA to acknowledge and respect the state’s authority, the uniqueness of North Dakota’s coal and the exceptional quality of our air,” Dalrymple said.