Hoeven Working to Build States-First Energy Plan for the Nation

Senator Leading Efforts to Reduce Regulatory Burden, Advance Commonsense Approach to Energy Development

BISMARCK, N.D. – Speaking today at the Lignite Energy Council’s annual meeting, Senator John Hoeven drove home the importance of building the kind of energy plan for the country that we built in North Dakota with Empower ND. That means taking a states-first, all-of-the-above approach toward energy development that will create jobs and boost the economy, rather than a one-size-fits-all approach.

Hoeven addressed three especially burdensome Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) rules: proposed carbon dioxide regulations for coal-fired power plants; the Waters of the United States rule; and the agency’s push to regulate coal ash and limit its use as a recycled construction material.

“We are working in a bipartisan way to build a true states-first, all-of-the-above energy development plan for the country that will empower local authorities to oversee energy development and keep electricity affordable for families and businesses,” Hoeven said.

Proposed CO2 Rules for Power Plants

Hoeven said the new CO2 rules for power plants are a problem because they mandate requirements on coal-fired power plants that are highly expensive and not yet commercially viable.

For example, the EPA has said the compliance costs of the proposed carbon dioxide regulations for existing coal-based power plants will, by the agency’s own reckoning, range from $5.4 to $7.4 billion annually beginning in 2020, before increasing to $7.3 to $8.8 billion beginning in 2030. These additional costs will be passed on to consumers and businesses, with a negative effect on jobs and the economy. 

To solve the problem, Hoeven has introduced the bipartisan Electricity Security and Affordability Act with Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.). The bill provides a commonsense alternative to EPA regulatory standards for new and existing coal-fired power plants by ensuring the regulations are based on technology that is proven and commercially available.  It also requires the EPA regulations for existing plants to pass Congress before being implemented. 

“This bill will not only protect jobs in the coal industry, but will ensure that we are truly employing an all-of-the-above approach to energy development,” said Hoeven. “Our legislation ensures coal plants have standards that work in the real world, so our homes and businesses have access to reliable and affordable supply of electricity. This is about jobs, and it’s about energy security for the American people. ”

As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Hoeven is also working on a second front. He is working to include language in the Energy  and Water appropriations bill that would require the EPA to certify that electricity prices would not go up, nor jobs be eliminated, as a result of implementing new rules on existing power plants. Without such a certification, the rules would not be able to move forward.

Waters of the U.S.

Similarly, Hoeven is working to rescind the Waters of the U.S. rule, which expands the EPA’s authority to regulate small wetlands, creeks, stock ponds and ditches under the Clean Water Act. The new rule would heavily burden not just farmers and ranchers, but also construction companies and the state Department of Transportation, that are working to build badly needed infrastructure in western North Dakota.

The senator is leading the effort in the Senate Appropriations Committee to include language in the Energy and Water Appropriations bill that will prevent the EPA and Army Corps of Engineers from implementing the new rule in Fiscal Year 2015.

Taking a States-First Approach to Coal Ash

Hoeven is also advancing bipartisan legislation to address the management of coal ash. North Dakota coal-fired power plants provide nearly 80 percent of the state’s residential and commercial energy needs and support nearly 17,000 workers in the state, both in the coal industry and in industries that support the coal industry.

The senator’s bipartisan Coal Ash Recycling and Oversight Act will ensure that coal ash can continue to be recycled into valuable construction materials, which is good not only for the coal industry, but also for the environment because coal ash gets used to build roads, buildings and other infrastructure. The bill takes a states-first approach, allowing local authorities to take the lead in developing, implementing and enforcing coal-ash permit programs that meet federal standards.