Senator John Hoeven, officials of Grand Forks-based Minnkota Power Cooperative and state and local leaders today showcased a new clean-coal technology at the company's Milton R. Young Station that significantly reduces emissions and maintains the state's strong environmental track record. Senator Hoeven was joined for the event by Governor Jack Dalrymple, Minnkota CEO Mac McLennan and Clean Coal Solutions representative Dr. Michael Durham.
Senator Hoeven and the state's congressional delegation worked to secure Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approval for the State Implementation Plan (SIP) for regional haze at the Young Station and other North Dakota utilities, which the agency agreed to in March. Minnkota is continuing to improve environmental standards under the SIP, rather than less cost-effective federal regulations, and today's event marked a milestone in the company's efforts.
The new additives produced by Minnkota partner Clean Coal Solutions has a proven ability to reduce mercury emission by more than 40 percent, and nitrogen oxides by 20 percent in cyclone boilers such as those used at the Young Station. Minnkota began using the new additives late last year, and early results are showing significant reductions in emissions. It is the first application of the product to lignite coal in the country.
Hoeven has also worked in the U.S. Senate to support clean-coal technology with bills such as the Coal Ash Recycling and Oversight Act of 2012, which provides strong state oversight for storage and management of coal residuals, while empowering industry to safely recycle it into useful and less-expensive construction materials.
The senator has also worked to promote research at facilities like the Energy and Environmental Research Center in Grand Forks. As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, he worked to secure $368 million in funding for the Department of Energy Fossil Energy Research and Development budget, which provides research dollars for clean coal technology, enhanced oil recovery with carbon sequestration and improved efficiency at coal-based power plants. The research will increase domestic energy production, achieve better environmental stewardship and create good paying jobs for the country.
Developing clean-coal technologies to retrofit existing and build new clean coal-fired electric plants is also a key goal of Hoeven's Empower North Dakota initiative, a comprehensive energy plan developed over a decade that works to advance all of the state's varied energy resources in tandem. North Dakota's Lignite Research Council, a state-industry partnership that conducts near term, practical research and development, is currently participating in 15 research and development projects worth approximately $170 million ranging in subject from clean-coal technology to carbon sequestration.
"Our state has an 800-year supply of lignite coal -- the second largest proven reserve in the world -- making initiatives like the one we're showcasing today one of the most important innovations anywhere in the world to secure our energy future," Hoeven said. "Efforts like this, as well as recycling efforts, clearly underscore the fact that a true all-of-the-above strategy for American energy independence must include lignite coal if we want to make our nation truly secure and economically vibrant."
"We are pleased that we have found a cost-effective technology that can help us meet current and future regulatory requirements and further reduce our power plant emissions," said Mac McLennan, Minnkota president & CEO. "This technology also provides us with another operational tool to deal with the variables of lignite coal and boiler conditions. We are continuing to use and evaluate the longer-term use of CyClean additives."
Today, North Dakota's lignite coal industry serves two million customers in the Upper Great Plains and has a total economic impact of about $3 billion. Approximately 80 percent of the lignite is used to generate electricity for a five-state region; about 13 percent is used to generate synthetic natural gas for 400,000 homes and businesses in the eastern United States; and the balance is used to produce fertilizer products for agriculture.