Hoeven: North Dakota's Coal Industry Continues to Lead in Innovation, Needs Regulatory Certainty

Senator Outlines Efforts to Ensure Affordable Energy, Support Technology Development & Provide Regulatory Relief

BISMARCK, N.D. – At the Lignite Energy Council’s annual meeting today in Bismarck, Senator John Hoeven outlined his efforts to support the state’s energy industry and ensure that affordable and reliable energy is available for consumers and businesses.

“Our state’s coal industry provides affordable, reliable electricity for the whole region,” Hoeven said. “We are working to support them as they develop new, innovative technologies, such as commercially-viable carbon sequestration, which will help ensure that this valuable energy source can continue to benefit our citizens and our economy. At the same time, we need a regulatory environment that doesn’t impose unnecessary costs on energy producers and consumers. That is why we continue our efforts to prevent burdensome federal rules from being implemented, such as the Waters of the U.S. rule, the EPA’s rules for power plants and the Stream Buffer Rule, while also providing certainty through measures such as our bill to provide for the safe disposal and recycling of coal ash.”

As a member of the Senate Energy Committee and Energy Appropriations Committee, Hoeven in working to promote policies and programs that support the development of new, innovative technologies that will empower more energy production with greater environmental stewardship. At the same time, he continues his efforts to provide regulatory certainty for energy producers and prevent the implementation of burdensome and excessive federal rules.


Hoeven recently introduced the CO2 Regulatory Certainty Act of 2016 with Senator Steve Daines (R-Mont.), legislation that aligns tax guidelines with existing federal regulations to ensure project developers are better able to claim the 45Q tax credit, which will accelerate CO2 sequestration projects and help the nation to make use of its abundant coal resources. In addition, Hoeven wrote to Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy last week, urging her to approve North Dakota’s application for regulatory primacy over Class VI injection wells, which are used for the geologic storage of carbon. The state’s application was submitted in 2013, and, if approved, would allow carbon capture and sequestration (CCS) projects to move forward, such as the CCS project proposed by Red Trail Energy in Richardton, North Dakota. As governor, Hoeven worked to establish a regulatory framework for the geologic storage of CO2, which would allow for the state to assume liability, monitoring and long-term management of the wells after ten years.

Earlier this year, Hoeven also successfully secured $30 million in the Senate’s Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 Energy and Water Appropriations bill to support the development of commercially viable CCS technology. Following this, the senator arranged a meeting between Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz and North Dakota energy leaders and helped to formalize a partnership between Minnkota Power Cooperative, Allete Clean Energy, BNI Energy and the University of North Dakota’s (UND) Energy and Environmental Research Center (EERC) for Project Tundra, a clean coal technology project.


Hoeven is working in the following areas to provide regulatory relief for North Dakota’s energy industry:

Waters of the U.S. (WOTUS) – Hoeven included language in the Senate’s FY2017 Interior and Environment funding bill to prevent the implementation of the WOTUS rule.

EPA’s Rules for New and Existing Power Plants – Hoeven cosponsored and the Senate passed two resolutions to repeal the EPA’s costly power plan rules for existing plants and new coal generating plants, which President Obama subsequently vetoed. Separately, the senator helped introduce the Affordable Reliable Energy Now Act, which would protect against the regulations, and organized a meeting with the EPA, state officials and industry leaders, where the agency agreed to work with the state and provide more time to address its concerns.

Coal Ash Recycling – The Senate recently passed the Water Resources Development Act (WRDA), which includes legislation based on the Improving Coal Combustion Residuals Regulation Act of 2016, a bill introduced by Hoeven and Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.). The Hoeven-Manchin measure prevents costly litigation and, for the first time, creates an enforceable state permit program for the disposal of coal ash, which also helps industry to continue to safely recycle it into useful, less-expensive construction materials.

Stream Buffer Rule – Earlier this year, Hoeven brought Janice Schneider, Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals Management at the Interior Department, to North Dakota to show her firsthand the impact of the agency’s proposed Stream Buffer rule. The senator pressed Schneider to take a states-first approach and find a rule that is workable in North Dakota. Hoeven continues his efforts to ensure the department works with states to protect water quality without adversely impacting jobs and the economy and to prohibit modifications to the Stream Buffer Rule, which threatens thousands of jobs in 22 states.

Water Heater Efficiency – Congress passed Hoeven’s Water Heater Efficiency legislation in 2015, which enables rural electric power cooperatives and their members to continue using large, energy-efficient water heaters in “demand response” conservation programs. The Energy Department had planned to phase them out by April 2015 but did not account for the value of these water heaters for consumers, electric cooperatives and the environment.