Following the Coal Technology Symposium on Capitol Hill last week, we sat down with Senator Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) to talk about North Dakota’s and America’s energy future.
Senator Heitkamp knows better than most the need for a diverse fuel portfolio in America’s energy sector. After years of experience working within the energy industry, she now reaches across party lines on Capitol Hill to pursue common sense energy policies. Senator Heitkamp understands that coal-fueled electricity provides reliable, affordable power and can support America’s energy demands while reducing our carbon footprint.
“We know we can deploy clean coal,” Senator Heitkamp told us. “People ask me all the time, is there such a thing? And I say, absolutely.”
The United States is currently the global leader in clean coal technology innovation. The Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) proposed New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) for coal-fueled power plants, however, put America’s innovation leadership at serious risk. As currently devised, NSPS will all but ensure no new coal plant is ever built in America resulting in a halt in innovation in clean coal technologies. Other countries like China and India will be all too eager to step in and continue to advance these technologies which will bring economic benefits in the trillions of dollars to the leader of the innovation race.
Senator Heitkamp believes that EPA and energy policy makers should work with America’s coal industry to develop less stringent regulations that allow room for extensive research and development of clean coal technologies right here at home.
“When you shut down the opportunity for coal long-term, or you send the wrong signals, you’re going to shut down the investment,” Senator Heitkamp added.
In 2012, North Dakota depended on coal-fueled power to generate 78 percent of the state’s electricity. Local businesses and families alike rely on the affordable power from coal to power their communities reliably, even during North Dakota’s harsh winters. And, this winter in particular, coal-fueled power plants were critical in meeting electricity demands across the country during the coldest days.
If EPA continues to pursue regulations that will shut down coal-fueled plants or place a de facto ban on future construction, local communities will be hit the hardest. Thankfully, Senator Heitkamp is standing up for North Dakota communities that depend on coal-fired power for electricity, job growth, and the numerous benefits coal offers local economies.
Take action today and join the fight to protect low-cost energy from coal and support the development of clean coal technology.