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North Dakota senator to push for clean coal legislation (again)

World Coal,

Senator Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota is to re-introduce legislation to encourage development of clean coal.

The bill would help to safeguard the coal industry from new US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) standards that might prevent coal-fired power plants from being built, by offering financial incentive for utilities to develop carbon storage programs.

“You don’t abandon a reliable fuel source like coal”, Heitkamp said.

“When you don’t have national investment, ratepayers and shareholders bear the brunt of perfecting this technology”, she added.

The bill would provide US$10.23 billion in tax credits, bonds and low-interest loans through to 2036.

“This bill gives us confidence that we’ll continue to be able to use coal in the future”, said Steve Tomas of Basin Electric, a North Dakota utility.

Heitkamp proposed a nearly identical bill last year but it died in the Senate’s Finance Committee. This time, the bill is anticipated to be popular in the Republican-controlled Senate but face opposition from the White House.

The North Dakota coal industry has made major advances in energy production recently. The Spiritwood Station near Jamestown, owned by Great River Energy, began operations on 1 November. Basin Electric Power Co-op began working a US$402 million project to build a urea production facility at the Great Plains Synfuels Plant, which receives coal from the Freedom Mine.

The coal industry is also responsible for some of the highest wages in the state: Employees at the lignite mines and power plants earn wages that average approximately US$80 000/y, according to Job Service North Dakota.

Edited from various sources by Emma McAleavey.

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