Heidi Heitkamp’s clean coal bill gets mixed reaction from industry


By Rob Port | Watchdog.org North Dakota Bureau

DIFFERENT APPROACH: Senator Heidi Heitkamp, a North Dakota Democrat, says a bipartisan bill to block EPA emissions regulations for new power plants isn’t likely to get the political support needed to pass.

BISMARCK, N.D. — A bill introduced by U.S. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp to spur investment in clean coal technology has failed to get the backing of a key industry trade group.

And, it got only tepid support from the group in her home state, which she used as the back drop to announce the measure.

The “Advanced Clean Coal Technology Investment in Our Nation Bill” is intended to “make sure that coal remains a part of our energy mix,” according to a white paper about the legislation posted on the North Dakota Democrat’s website. But what may be more mixed is the reaction from the coal industry itself.

In a posting in a nonpublic section of its website provided to Watchdog by a member of the group, the National Mining Association says it doesn’t support Heitkamp’s bill.

“NMA supports long-term CCS development but declined to support the Heitkamp bill as it fails to address the immediate threat to coal-based capacity from the Environmental Protection Agency’s New Source Performance Standards,” reads the posting.

Heitkamp, announced her legislation at the headquarters of the Lignite Energy Council in Bismarck while flanked by coal industry representatives. While that group says it supports the bill, it also says the bill doesn’t go far enough.

“We support her bill because it’s an attempt to reinstate the traditional support by the U.S. Department of Energy for research and development for coal,” Lignite Energy Council spokesman Steve Van Dyke said in response to an email requesting comment. “While we support Heitkamp’s bill, we also realize that it doesn’t go far enough. That’s why we also support (Sen.) John Hoeven and (Rep.) Kevin Cramer and thank them for their support of the Whitfield-Manchin bill.”

Hoeven and Cramer are both Republicans from North Dakota.

Heitkamp has said she supports the Whitfield-Manchin bill, but she sees it as unlikely to succeed.

“That is one tactic, but I think that our concern is that that bill will not be able to get the amount of support,” she said last week according to the Fargo Forum.

Contact Rob Port at rport@watchdog.org.