Lloyd Omdahl’s recent column calls for the death of the state’s lignite industry. He presented a list of Democratic talking points and a thinly veiled threat that “if North Dakota won’t close the power plants, then President Biden’s administration will.”
A short six years ago we had President Obama’s war on coal and his coup d’gras – the poorly titled Clean Power Plan – that was stayed by the U.S. Supreme Court. Thank goodness North Dakota power plants remain in operation as they powered our homes and business during the February polar vortex. Given the temperature extremes in North Dakota, reliable power isn’t a luxury, it’s a necessity.
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The state’s lignite industry represents an $18 billion investment with $2 billion allocated to technologies to reduce and capture criteria pollutants. North Dakota is one of 17 clean air states. The North Dakota Legislature and the governor’s office wants to build on this foundation by working with regional utilities to ensure the continued operation along with incentives to “crack the code” on capturing carbon dioxide to make the plants even cleaner.
The Legislature doesn’t have the capacity to end the federal production tax credit for intermittent wind generation sources, so to level the playing field, a bill was passed to provide tax relief to the power plants to make sure their costs more competitive.
Unfortunately, there are columnists and letter writers with a dogmatic bent against fossil fuels in general and coal in particular. I wish they would step back and look at the opportunities that exist for new technologies and new markets. In Grand Forks, we have the Energy & Environmental Research Center working with the lignite industry to ensure the continued use of this bountiful natural resource.
North Dakota remains a leader in its “all-of-the-above” energy policies and this year the Legislature stepped forward to ensure that the lignite industry continues to provide good paying jobs and low cost, reliable baseload power that benefits not only our state but surrounding states as well.
Curt Kreun, R-Grand Forks, serves in the North Dakota Senate.
This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Forum's editorial board nor Forum ownership.