Sen. Heitkamp pushes coal-friendly legislation

Sen. Heidi Heitkamp (D-N.D.) is pressing for a path forward for coal in the U.S. while the Obama administration works to reign in power plant emissions.

Heitkamp announced legislation Monday presenting a "viable path for coal," currently responsible for more than a third of the country's power.

"North Dakotans rely on coal for about 80 percent of our electricity, and I’m committed to making sure this affordable, abundant energy source is available for North Dakotans for decades to come," Heitkamp said in a statement.

The legislation offers incentives to companies that invest in clean-coal technologies to help reduce carbon emissions.

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The pro-coal senator has voiced her opposition to President Obama's carbon pollution limits on coal-fired power plants in the past, claiming the carbon capture technology supporting the rules is not widely available commercially and will place a strain on the industry. 

"This bill incorporates ideas and lessons from my experiences working on coal issues both in the Senate and before joining Congress," Heitkamp said.

"And by working closely with both sides of the aisle, and listening to the folks on the ground who have to comply with regulations, I’m offering a pragmatic solution — not just talk — to put coal on a sustainable path forward. It’s past time that our country has a true all-of-the-above energy strategy, and I’ll push my colleagues and the administration to support this bill to help us accomplish that goal," she said.

Under the bill, coal-fired power plants would be eligible for $2 billion in federal loan guarantees and would qualify for tax credits based on the amount of carbon they capture, among other things.

Heitkamp is not alone in her concern over the administration's proposed standards for future power plants, which she and a majority of Republicans have dubbed the "war on coal."