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Sen. Jessica Unruh , Published February 27 2014

Letter: Legislation will ensure smart application of EPA regulations

In early March, the U.S. House of Representatives will likely approve the Whitfield-Manchin bill. This bill would require the Environ-mental Protection Agency to base proposed greenhouse gas rules for coal-based power plants on cost-effective and current commercially available technologies.

The bill was introduced in January by two coal-state legislators: Energy and Power Subcommittee Chairman Ed Whitfield, R-N.Y., and Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., Their legislation would ensure EPA rules would allow for a true “all of the above” American energy strategy.

Upon passage of the bill by the House, it will hopefully be brought before the U.S. Senate. North Dakota Sen. Heidi Heitkamp’s support for this bill is integral to ensuring that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid brings the bill up for a Senate vote, and ultimately for its final passage. I urge her to be a leader for North Dakota on this important piece of legislation.

The timing of this bill couldn’t be any more crucial. The EPA has already drafted its rule for new coal-based power plants based on a technology that is neither cost-effective nor commercially available and are scheduled to release another draft rule regarding greenhouse gases from existing plants in June. Action must be taken now.

Currently, our state benefits greatly from a lignite industry that produces affordable, reliable power from an abundant supply of lignite coal and continues to reduce emissions to ensure our state remains one of only seven clean air states. Over-regulation from the EPA threatens our North Dakota way of life, with more than 17,000 jobs and 80 percent of our electrical supply at risk without the passage of this bill.

With all but one of North Dakota’s coal-fired power plants located in District 33, no one population is more directly affected by these potentially devastating regulations than the 14,000 people in my district.

I know Heitkamp has worked with Manchin before to protect the thousands of jobs related to coal mining in their states, and I encourage them to join forces again on the Whitfield-Manchin bill.


Unruh, R-Beulah, represents District 33 in the North Dakota Senate.