Senator John Hoeven today held an energy roundtable in Bismarck to review with industry leaders President Obama's newly proposed national climate action plan and to update them on legislation he is working to pass in the U.S. Senate to empower states and develop a comprehensive energy strategy for the nation.
During the roundtable discussion, the senator stressed that the president's new proposal means higher energy costs for consumers and businesses, weakened U.S. competiveness in global markets and increased unemployment at a time when the economy is still struggling. Hoeven outlined several alternative states-first approaches to energy production, emphasizing that the country needs to create a true all-of-the-above national energy plan similar to the highly successful Empower ND, which has helped grow North Dakota's energy industry and contribute to the state's dynamic economy and job creation.
"The smart, pro-growth approach North Dakota has developed to create jobs and expand our energy industry can serve as a blueprint for the nation," Hoeven said. "Our country's vast energy resources hold the potential to create jobs, promote innovation, grow our economy and secure our energy independence. To achieve these goals, however, the administration needs to work with Congress to streamline the regulatory process and empower individual states. States are the best stewards of their own resources. Empowering them to manage their own energy development will attract investment, foster innovation, develop new, more advanced technologies and ultimately produce more energy with better environmental stewardship."
Last week, President Obama unveiled a climate action plan aiming to cut carbon pollution. The proposal would place an even heavier regulatory burden on the country's energy industry and includes a directive to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to reduce power plant carbon emissions for existing power plants no later than June 1, 2014, and implement a final standard by June 1, 2015. States must submit implementation plans to the EPA by June 30, 2016. The president has also directed the EPA to issue new proposed carbon emissions standards for New Electric Utility Generating Units by no later than September 20, 2013.
As a member of the Senate Energy Committee, Hoeven is working, as he did as governor of North Dakota, to build a comprehensive energy policy for the nation. The senator has introduced a variety of energy bills including the Domestic Energy and Jobs Act (DEJA), the Empower States Act and other measures that are designed to fully develop America's latent energy potential. That includes measures to build the nation's infrastructure, including the Keystone XL pipeline, and provide regulatory certainty.
In attendance at the event were Andy Serri, Basin Electric; Chris Vendeventer, Basin Electric; Abbie Krebsbach, MDU; Rick Mattson, MDU; David Straley, North American Coal; Al Christianson, Great River Energy; Bob Ambrose, Great River Energy; Alexis Brinkman, ND Petroleum Council; Mac McLennan, Minnkota; David Sogard, Minnkota; Stacey Dahl, Minnkota; and Julie Fedorchack, Public Service Commission.
Following are examples of legislation that Senator Hoeven has introduced or intends to introduce in the new session of Congress to build a comprehensive energy plan for the nation:
Keystone XL Pipeline
The Keystone XL pipeline is a proposed 1,700 mile oil pipeline that would run from Alberta, Canada to the U.S. Gulf Coast, delivering 830,000 barrels of oil per day to U.S. refineries. Senators Hoeven and Max Baucus (D-Mont.), along with 22 other Senate co-sponsors, introduced bipartisan legislation to approve the long-delayed Keystone XL pipeline. Following Nebraska's approval of the pipeline's route through that state and the U.S. Department of State's March 1, 2013 report showing no significant environmental impacts from the pipeline, Hoeven and Baucus have been working cooperatively and with their respective party members to press the Administration to get both a timeline and a favorable decision.
Senators Hoeven and Baucus also offered an amendment that passed by a vote of 62 to 37, putting the U.S. Senate on record in support of the Keystone XL pipeline. This measure established a formal recognition by the U.S. Senate that the Keystone XL pipeline will boost the nation's economic growth and contribute revenues to the United States Treasury. Just prior to passage of the Hoeven-Baucus Amendment, a second amendment that attempted to put delays and restrictions on the project was defeated by a vote of 33 to 66, making it very clear that the Administration should not delay or put more restrictions on the Keystone XL pipeline.
Empower States Act
The Empower States Act would ensure that states retain the right to manage hydraulic fracturing and gives them the ability to respond first to any violation. It includes provisions to prevent loss of jobs or harm to consumers and the economy, to prevent arbitrary regulation from federal authorities and to ensure good environmental stewardship. This legislation recognizes that individual states are the first and best responders to oil and gas issues because they know their land and have a stake in protecting their environment.
Coal Ash Recycling and Oversight Act
This legislation provides strong state oversight for storage and management of coal residuals, while empowering the industry to safely recycle it into useful and less-expensive construction materials. The bill would establish minimum federal standards, enforce groundwater protection standards and allow for stronger and more cost-effective buildings and roads.
Domestic Energy and Jobs Act (DEJA)
DEJA is a wide-ranging package of 13 diverse energy bills that addresses both traditional and renewable development, designed to streamline and simplify regulations, boost domestic energy supplies, build American energy infrastructure and safeguard America's supply of critical minerals. It establishes an American energy development plan, an all-of-the-above energy program for federal lands by reviewing the nation's energy needs and goals for federal land energy production.
Domestic Fuels Act
The Domestic Fuels Act would remove legal and infrastructure obstacles, such as cost of entry for retailers, inconsistent standards and other regulatory factors that limit the amount of renewable fuels that can be sold through existing motor fuel retail outlets. The bill requires the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to develop streamlined criteria so that underground tanks can be used to dispense gasoline, diesel, ethanol or some combination of fuels, rather than requiring the use of separate tanks.
Furthermore, it provides liability protection for retailers that meet the streamlined EPA standards so that they can sell multiple types of fuel with less red tape, providing consumers with more choice and lower fuel prices. By establishing a new pathway for retailers to ensure that their equipment is safe and legally recognized as compatible to sell new fuels, this bill would reduce the cost of entry for many retailers.
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Streamlining Act
The BLM Streamlining Act, bipartisan legislation cosponsored by Senator Heidi Heitkamp, which passed the Senate last week, will expand the service area of the Miles City, Mont. office to include North Dakota and changes it to the Montana/Dakotas State Office. This will allow the office to process permits for North Dakota, expediting approvals, which currently take up to nine months. The BLM field office in Miles City is part of the Federal Permit Streamlining Pilot Project, established in 2005, and designed to improve the coordination of oil and gas permitting on federal lands. This legislation would enable North Dakota to be part of the pilot project under the newly named Montana/Dakotas State Office. Pilot offices are charged with finding innovative ways to coordinate permitting to ensure efficient development with good environmental stewardship. The House has also passed a similar bill and the two will need to be reconciled.