- Democratic Sen. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, whose state is a big producer of coal and gets 80% of its electricity from coal, introduced a bill to increase federal funding for development of carbon capture and storage (CCS) technology.
- The bill would designate $2 billion of Department of Energy fossil energy loan guarantee program funds for coal projects – 25% of the program’s funding. It also would set aside $10 billion for an industry-government cost-share CCS program and increase a tax credit and low-interest coal bonds for coal plants built with CCS.
- The measure comes as the Obama administration prepares to issue final, hotly contested greenhouse gas rules that require any new coal plants to have CCS in order to meet tight emission standards. Emission rules for existing coal plants are also on the way.
Heitcamp’s bill could be seen as an effort to put the government’s money where its mouth is. The Environmental Protection Agency contends CCS is a proven technology available for use on power plants, but the utility and coal industries deny it is anywhere near ready. “There’s a big gap between the rhetoric of technology and actuality of technology,” Heitcamp said.