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'Clean Energy Fund' bill in a Senate committee

A bill to create a state Clean Energy Authority is now before a state Senate Committee.

HB 1452 would appropriate $40 million from the state’s General Fund. A companion proposal in HB 1431, the bonding bill, would add another $250 million.

The measure is designed to fund projects to reduce emissions. That would include carbon-capture systems at coal-fired electric plants.

One of the supporters – North Dakota Petroleum Council president Ron Ness – told the Senate Appropriations Committee this would give North Dakota energy a “leg up.”

"How do we make North Dakota coal cleaner?" Ness said. "How do we make a Bakken barrel cleaner? How do we make a wind project better? We have to find an advantage out there."

But Janessa Thompson of the Dakota Resource Council objected, because of the amount of money to be spent on Project Tundra, the carbon capture project at the Milton R. Young power station, near Center. She told the committee projects for CO2 capture have failed multiple times.

"A recent example is Petra-Nova in Texas," Thompson told the Committee. "It was projected to capture 90 percent or more of CO2. It was not able to reach that, so it was uneconomic, and was mothballed."

Thompson said millions of dollars of investments were lost.

"We do not want to see North Dakota public monies being used in a similar manner, and lost," Thompson said.

The committee did not take immediate action.

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