Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) is introducing legislation that she says will keep coal as part of the nation’s energy mix.
Heitkamp says the bill would provide regulatory certainty for the coal-fired power industry. And she says it would provide federal financial assistance to the industry – to use new carbon-capture technologies.
"Every time the industry has been given a challenge to meet, they've not only met them, but have exceeded them," Heitkamp said at a Bismarck news conference. "They continue to do a great job. But now we're in the challenge of carbon dioxide regulation. We can get there. But we're not going to get there overnight. And we're not going to get there without a little help."
Leaders in North Dakota's lignite industry say they support Heitkamp's legislation.
"Many times, the utility industry is stuck in the position of just saying 'no,'" said North Dakota Association of Rural Electric Cooperatives president Dennis Hill. "And we have to do that, because there are very severe consequences of some of the regulations being talked about. But a bill like this gives us the ability to go into a room and say, 'Here's our solution.'"
Heitkamp and industry leaders say the challenge is to keep electricity affordable – and coal needs to be a part of that effort.