Hoeven Working on Senate Energy, Appropriations Committees to Protect Energy Jobs in North Dakota, Maintain Affordable Electricity Prices

Senator Leading Efforts to Implement States-First Approach to Energy Development, Regulation

CENTER, N.D. At a tour of Minnkota Power Cooperative’s Milton R. Young Station today, Senator John Hoeven discussed his ongoing work in the U.S. Senate to support North Dakota’s lignite industry. This work includes his efforts to block burdensome regulations proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which will raise the cost of electricity and threaten job creation in the state, and to enable the commonsense and responsible recycling of coal residuals.

“In North Dakota, we enjoy some of the most affordable electricity in the country,” Hoeven said. “That is because we’re working hard to support all of our energy resources by creating the right kind of legal, tax and regulatory environment. That means putting into place cost-effective policies that help our businesses and power cooperatives, like Minnkota and others, to provide affordable energy with good environmental stewardship to our people while also providing good-paying jobs.

“In the U.S. Senate, I am working to replicate that success for our nation by pursuing a states-first approach to energy development and regulation and pushing back against burdensome, one-size-fits-all rules. Such an approach will help lower costs for our nation’s citizens and their businesses, empowering economic growth and improving our nation’s energy security.”

Regional Haze

Last week, Hoeven announced that the EPA reaffirmed the agency’s approval of the North Dakota Department of Health’s State Implementation Plan for Regional Haze, determining that the state’s plan meets all necessary environmental requirements for good stewardship. Hoeven has been pushing the EPA since he was governor to accept the state’s plan rather than forcing a more costly, one-size-fits-all federal plan.

Coal Ash Recycling and Oversight Act

Hoeven continues to lead the effort in the Senate to find a bipartisan legislative solution to address coal ash management. Since the introduction of the senator’s bipartisan Coal Ash Recycling and Oversight Act, the EPA has finalized its coal ash regulations. While the EPA did decide to regulate coal ash as non-hazardous for now, the new regulations do not provide long-term certainty for coal ash recycling, and the regulations will not be enforced through a permit program but through litigation. Building on his earlier efforts, Hoeven is developing new legislation that will provide certainty for coal ash recycling and responsible coal ash management through state permit programs, allowing local authorities to take the lead in developing, implementing and enforcing coal-ash permit programs that meet federal standards.

CO2 Emission Rules for Existing Power Plants

Hoeven is working both as a member of the Senate Energy Committee and Senate Appropriations Committee to address the EPA’s proposed carbon dioxide regulations for existing coal-based power plants, which mandate requirements that are highly expensive and not yet commercially viable. The EPA estimates compliance costs will range from $7.3 to $8.8 billion annually by 2030. Those costs will be passed on to consumers and businesses, impeding job creation and the economy.

In response, Hoeven partnered with Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) during the 113th Congress to introduce the bipartisan Electricity Security and Affordability Act, which requires that Congress be provided with the text and economic impacts of any such rule and prevents the rule from taking effect until Congress passes legislation setting its effective date. Hoeven also worked through the Energy and Water appropriations subcommittee to either block the rule by defunding the EPA’s rulemaking activities or require the agency to certify that electricity prices would not go up, nor jobs be eliminated, as a result of implementing the new rules.

Hoeven said he welcomed news earlier this week that the EPA is extending the comment deadline for the new rules. The senator is continuing his efforts in the 114th Congress to ensure the EPA’s rules are workable in the real world, protecting jobs in the energy industry and maintaining affordable electricity prices.

Waters of the U.S.

Similarly, Hoeven continues to work to rescind the Waters of the U.S. rule, which expands the EPA’s authority to regulate small wetlands, creeks, ponds and ditches under the Clean Water Act (CWA). The new rule would burden farms, ranches, small businesses, energy production and commercial development across North Dakota and other western states. The senator led the effort during the last Congress in the Senate Appropriations Committee to block the implementation of the new rule in Fiscal Year (FY) 2015.

The Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act of 2015 succeeded in blocking the related Waters of the U.S. Interpretive Rule that would have adversely affected many farmers. The EPA has since withdrawn this interpretive rule, which would have made it more difficult for farmers and ranchers to qualify for an exemption from burdensome CWA dredge and fill regulations for normal farming and ranching activities. Hoeven is continuing to work in his position on the Appropriations Committee for the withdrawal of the EPA and Army Corps’ proposed Waters of the U.S. rule.

Prior to today’s tour, Hoeven joined BNI Coal Ltd. in marking the relocation of the company’s nine-million-pound Liberty dragline, the culmination of a long-term, 9,000-acre expansion of BNI’s surface mine, the largest expansion in the mine’s history. BNI produces about $4.5 million tons of lignite per year, which supplies Minnkota’s nearby station and powers eastern North Dakota and northern Minnesota.