Hoeven Working to Secure Approval of BNI Mine Plan

Senator Holds Meeting between DOI, Minnkota Power & BNI Coal

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven traveled to Washington, D.C. this week to convene a meeting between North Dakota energy producers, including representatives from Minnkota Power Cooperative and BNI Coal, and Department of the Interior (DOI) officials to urge for the approval of a new federal mine plan for the Center Mine. The new plan is needed to provide certainty for BNI and Minnkota’s continued operations. Without its approval, BNI would have to incur significant costs to make and implement contingency plans for developing other portions of the mine, resulting in higher electricity prices across the region. Currently, the required environmental assessment for the federal mine plan has been in process for 16 months.

During the meeting, Hoeven stressed to Laura Daniel-Davis, DOI Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary for Land and Minerals, the need to prevent further energy price increases on American consumers and outlined the importance of maintaining the affordability and reliability of the grid. Center Mine is owned and operated by BNI and supplies coal to the adjacent Milton R. Young Station, a 700-megawatt power plant that provides baseload electricity in North Dakota and Minnesota. The senator was joined at the meeting by Director of Government Affairs Thor Underdahl and Senior Environmental Compliance/Land Management Specialist Greg Petrick from BNI Energy; and Vice President of Power Supply Craig Bleth and Government Affairs Representative Brita Endrud from Minnkota Power Cooperative.

“We flew back to D.C. to convene this meeting with DOI, because the approval for BNI’s new mine plan is on a tight timeline. If DOI fails to approve the plan, it will cost the company and electricity ratepayers millions of dollars at a time when we are already fighting record-high inflation,” said Hoeven. “Further, the Milton R. Young Station provides essential baseload power, helping to ensure our grid remains reliable when power and heat are needed most. The new mine plan will help ensure BNI and Minnkota’s operations remain cost-effective and prevent avoidable price increases, while supporting their efforts to advance Project Tundra, which is critical to our country’s energy future and will be one of the largest CCUS projects in the world.”

Today’s meeting comes as part of Hoeven’s continued efforts to combat inflation, bring down energy prices and strengthen U.S. energy security. Among other priorities, the senator is working to secure coal’s future in the nation’s energy mix, including by: 

  • Advancing efforts to crack the code on carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS) technologies. Hoeven has worked to secure North Dakota’s leadership for nearly 15 years, having:
    • As governor, created a regulatory framework for carbon storage in the state.
    • As U.S. Senator, secured approval of the state’s application for regulatory primacy over the use of Class VI wells for geologic storage of CO2. North Dakota was the first of only two states to have this authority.
    • Worked to implement and enhance the 45Q tax credit, one of the most important incentives to make CCUS projects commercially-viable, among other priorities.
  • Supporting a successful legal challenge against the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) efforts to issue burdensome, sector-wide regulations that force states to change their fuel sources for electricity generation.
  • Sponsoring legislation to prohibit the president from issuing moratoria on leasing and permitting for energy and mineral resources, including coal, on federal lands.