- U.S. Sens. Joe Manchin (D-WV) and Heidi Heitkamp (D-ND) have introduced a package of five bills supporting research and development of clean coal technologies, streamlining coal regulations and making it easier to fund coal projects that emit less greenhouse gas into the atmosphere.
- The two lawmakers said they believe coal can remain a part of the United States energy mix while at the same time reducing emissions.
- One proposal would establish a program dedicated to clean coal innovation through research and development, while another would allow pre-authorized funding for clean coal technologies.
Sens. Manchin and Heitkamp, both vocal supporters of coal energy, have introduced a package of bills aimed at keeping the resource relevant as the federal government continues to push for carbon emissions reductions and older, less-efficient plants are shuttered.
“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,” Manchin said in a statement. “Domestic coal production ensures affordable energy prices and a reliable electric grid."
One bill would create a program dedicated to developing clean coal technologies, which the lawmakers said would work to keep energy costs low, diversify the nation's power supply and speed carbon-reducing techbnologies coming to market.
Another proposal would designate clean coal as DOE "fossil energy priority" by amending the Energy Policy Act to listing carbon capture, use and storage as a specific objective for DOE and the Office of Fossil Energy.
“Coal is a vital part of our nation’s energy mix, providing 40% of electricity around the country and nearly 80 percent of the electricity in North Dakota,” Heitkamp said. “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."
The pair have also proposed requiring the DOE to consider changes to the agency's loan program to allow clean coal projects to use pre-authorized funds, and to make the DOE the agency in charge of coordinating clean coal power generation projects.
While critics say clean coal plants and retrofits remain expensive and unproven, leaders of both congressional parties say they support the development of the technologies, as does the White House.