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Burgum speaks to lignite industry about carbon neutrality

Published: Sep. 29, 2021 at 5:39 PM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - Some of the biggest players in coal and state leadership convened in Bismarck for one of the largest energy conventions all year.

Coal plays a significant role in the energy grid, but consumers are calling for other options, and North Dakota is trying to accommodate them.

At the Bismarck Event Center, state and industry leaders debated future options for the industry. North Dakota coal has been on a rollercoaster for the past few years. But it’s becoming clear that the challenges down the road aren’t just environmental.

Many large banks and investment firms have a strict policy against putting money towards coal plants. This is keeping capital from getting to companies in need if cash.

The industry isn’t just receiving pressure from the markets. Some of the conflict is internal with current investors.

“It’s not a direct kind of... I’ll say attack. It’s a very nuanced approach to how do you get to the end goals,” said Todd Telesz, Basin Electric Power Cooperative.

As the industry looks to be greener, the state is moving in-step.

Last Spring, Gov. Doug Burgum, R-N.D., announced the state goal of carbon neutrality by the end of the decade.

In front of lignite leaders, he shared the path of using carbon storage as a revenue stream to pay for the plan.

“We’re going to do it without mandates, without a single mandate. Not on one plant, not on one company, not on one community, not on one industry. We’re gonna do it with no regulation. How do you do it? We do it because the nation... and somebody said to me ‘and who’s gonna pay for it?’ I said, ‘no, we’re gonna get paid.’ The nation wants to get rid of their CO2, and we have one of the best repositories for it,” said Burgum.

Burgum added that the state is already receiving interest from companies with billions of dollars in investments on the line.

Earlier this week, state leaders approved the guidelines for the Clean Sustainable Energy Authority, which was created during the last legislative session to put millions of dollars towards shovel-ready projects for cleaner energy options.

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