May 14, 2015

Manchin, Heitkamp Introduce Commonsense Bills to Provide Viable Path Forward For Coal

Senators’ Proposals Work to Incentivize and Streamline Clean Coal Policies, Making Sure Coal Remains Key to Our National Energy Mix

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) today introduced a package of bills to support the development of clean coal energy and make sure coal remains a key part of America’s energy mix well into the future. 

Both outspoken advocates for a strong path forward for coal – an energy source that the United States depends on for close to 40 percent of its electricity – Manchin and Heitkamp are working together to offer commonsense solutions to promote the continued development of coal while reducing energy emissions. 

Some of the proposals incorporate key pieces aim to streamline and strengthen rules governing clean coal energy across the country and remove uncertainty inhibiting the development of these carbon emissions-reducing technologies. The Senators’ proposals would also work to encourage research and development of clean coal technologies, make carbon dioxide use and storage (CCUS) an explicit priority at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), and look at ways to make CCUS loan programs work better and more efficiently.

“It is critical for America to establish an all-of-the-above energy portfolio that includes all of our domestic resources and to face the fact that coal will play an integral role in producing our electricity for decades to come,” said Manchin. “Domestic coal production ensures affordable energy prices and a reliable electric grid, while also helping the U.S. remain competitive in a global marketplace. I am pleased to introduce this legislative package with my good friend, Senator Heidi Heitkamp, which will ensure that we are investing in the necessary research development and advanced technologies to address the preservation of low cost electricity, clean coal production, cost effective energy practices and carbon emissions reduction.”

“Coal is a vital part of our nation’s energy mix, providing 40 percent of electricity around the country and nearly 80 percent of the electricity in North Dakota,” said Heitkamp. “It’s time for both sides of the debate about coal to get on board with the fact that coal is a reliable and redundant resource that we should continue to use, and by doing so, it helps reduce electricity costs for all of us. But we can do it in a way that is cleaner and more efficient – that’s where the bills Senator Manchin and I offered come in. This isn’t a new issue for me – from my time serving on North Dakota’s Industrial Commission as the state’s Attorney General to working as a director at Dakota Gasification to working on coal issues in the Senate – and our proposals build off legislation I already introduced to find a realistic path forward for coal. Now, we’re joining forces to offer pragmatic solutions that will promote clean coal technologies that support good jobs while making our country more energy diverse, effective, and secure for years to come.”

Specifically, Manchin’s and Heitkamp’s five proposals are listed below:

  • Prioritize Clean Coal Research and Development: This bill would put a premium on a path forward for coal by establishing a comprehensive program dedicated to clean coal technological innovation through research, development, and implementation. The program would work to preserve low-cost electricity, diversify our nation’s energy supply by keeping coal competitive with other low-carbon energy sources, and speed up efforts to develop carbon emission-reducing technologies.

  • Designate Clean Coal Technologies as an Official DOE Fossil Energy Priority: Amending the Energy Policy Act and listing carbon capture, use and storage (CCUS) as a specific objective for DOE and the Office of Fossil Energy, this bill would work to maintain clean coal technologies as a clear part of the nation’s energy mix and lower the cost of reducing carbon emissions.

  • Use Pre-Authorized Funding for Clean Coal Innovation: This bill would require the DOE to study the effectiveness of recommended changes to the agency’s loan program, which authorized $8 billion in 2008, but has yet to use the funds for carbon and cost reducing fossil energy projects.

  • Streamline and Strengthen Coal Energy Rules: This bill would cut unnecessary government red-tape by making sure one source – the DOE – responsible for coordinating clean coal power generation projects. The Senators’ bill will increase the number of energy generating projects to the DOE’s purview to make sure more programs can incentivize carbon emission reductions through increased clean coal technologies.

  • Promote Long-Term Certainty for Clean Coal Electricity: This bill would give the DOE Secretary the ability to help secure long-term certainty for clean coal technology utilities and workers by allowing the Secretary to enter into pricing stabilization agreements that keep clean coal market prices viable. This simple fix would create more incentives for public-private investment in carbon-reducing clean coal projects, and help remove barriers of uncertainty surrounding the development of these critical technologies.