Hoeven Outlines Work to Support North Dakota's Coal Industry

Senator Working to Provide Regulatory Relief, Develop Clean Coal Technologies

BISMARCK, N.D. – Senator John Hoeven, a member of the Senate Energy Committee, spoke at the Lignite Energy Council’s annual meeting and outlined his efforts to support the state’s lignite industry. The senator’s work includes stopping the stream buffer rule, beginning the roll back of the so-called clean power plan, rescinding the moratorium on federal coal leasing and repealing the royalty rate increase for federal coal. As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Hoeven has also been working to provide funding to develop commercially-viable clean coal technologies. 

“Our lignite industry does a great job providing efficient, affordable and reliable electricity for the whole region,” said Hoeven. “For too long, this industry has been over regulated and burdened with costly and unnecessary rules that make it harder to do business. Working with the new Administration, we’ve made good progress to roll back unnecessary regulations, like the costly power plan and the stream buffer rule, and provide our coal industry with greater certainty and support.” 

Providing Regulatory Relief and Certainty

  • Stopping the Stream Buffer Rule – Hoeven helped introduce and pass legislation to rescind the one-size-fits-all Stream Buffer Rule, which was primarily based on mining practices in the Appalachian region and threatened to eliminate thousands of mining jobs. In February, Hoeven joined the president to sign into law the legislation repealing the rule under the Congressional Review Act. 
  • Rolling back the EPA’s Costly Power Plan – In March, Hoeven was at the White House when the president signed an executive order to stop the EPA’s costly power plan rules for new and existing coal generating power plants and to begin the process of rolling back the regulations. In the last Congress, Hoeven cosponsored and the Senate passed two resolutions to repealing the EPA’s costly power plan rules, which President Obama subsequently vetoed. He also 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.
  • Rescinding the Moratorium on Federal Coal Leasing – In March, Hoeven joined the Interior Secretary to rescind the moratorium on federal coal leasing, which made continuing operations and planning both more difficult and more expensive for energy companies, causing the loss of good jobs. Federal lands are often intertwined with private lands, so the moratorium cost taxpayers money, unfairly disenfranchised private mineral owners and raised energy costs for consumers.
  • Repealing Rule on Federal Coal Valuation – Earlier this month, the Interior Department also began to repeal an Obama Administration rule that changed how federal coal resources were valued, making it more costly to develop federal coal, oil and gas. This effort to extract higher royalty payments would have likely discouraged the development of federal coal resources.

Developing CO2 Sequestration Technology

Hoeven has also been working to secure funding to support the development of commercially viable Carbon Capture and Sequestration (CCS) technology. At a confirmation hearing for Energy Secretary Rick Perry, Hoeven stressed the importance of new technology in producing more energy with better environmental stewardship and secured a commitment from Perry to visit North Dakota. 

The senator highlighted to Perry the work of the Energy and Environmental Research Center (EERC) at the University of North Dakota (UND) and work to develop and commercialize two CCS projects: the Allam Cycle, a next-generation pilot and demonstration project being developed by Basin Electric and Allete Inc. to reduce CO2 emissions and increase efficiency in new coal-fired and natural gas power plants and Project Tundra, an advanced scrubbing technology project to retrofit existing plants to capture CO2, which can then be sequestered or used in enhanced oil recovery, making the facilities viable into the future.

In addition, Hoeven continues working to secure approval from the EPA for 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 CCS projects to move forward. 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.