North Dakota’s delegation responds to President Biden’s comments about coal plants

Published: Nov. 7, 2022 at 4:41 PM CST
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - Last year, more than half of North Dakota’s electricity generation came from coal-fired power plants, according to the Energy Information Administration.

President Joe Biden said Friday he wants to shut down coal plants across America to replace them with wind and solar.

“We’re going to be shutting these plants down all across America and having wind and solar,” said President Joe Biden.

Representative Kelly Armstrong responded to Biden’s comment.

“Let North Dakotans do what we do best. We’ll provide cheap, reliable electricity. Let us get infrastructure in-ground, let us get our product to market and we’ll make your life a little easier and not harder,” said Representative Armstrong.

West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin also agrees the decision would devastate his state and the economy.

In a tweet, the Democratic Senator said: “President Biden’s comments are not only outrageous and divorced from reality. They ignore the severe economic pain the American people are feeling because of rising energy costs. Comments like these are the reason the American people are losing trust in President Biden and instead believe he does not understand the need to have an all-in energy policy that would keep our nation totally energy independent and secure. It seems his positions change depending on the audience and the politics of the day. Politicizing our nation’s energy policies would only bring higher prices and more pain for the American people.

Let me be clear, this is something the president has never said to me. Being cavalier about the loss of coal jobs for men and women in West Virginia and across the country who literally put their lives on the line to help build and power this country is offensive and disgusting. The president owes these incredible workers an immediate and public apology and it is time he learns a lesson that his words matter and have consequences.”

A spokesperson with the Dakota Resource Council said it worked with the coal industry during the height of the pandemic to make sure employees didn’t get left behind by economic changes.

“The current energy transition is a really complicated matter. When it comes [to] energy transition in North Dakota, Dakota Resource Council and its members would prefer moving to clean renewable energy like wind and solar, and storage. That being said, we also understand that a large portion of western North Dakota relies on the fossil fuel industries like oil and gas and coal for employment and tax revenue.

This is why we spent close to a year (2019) meeting with North Dakotans to discuss ways communities could diversify their economies in the case that their major industries like coal or oil and gas transition out. We hope that in the midst of the current energy transition that North Dakota communities will consider ways to diversify their economies and workforces so that if their main industry is reduced or eliminated, they have other options available,” said Scott Skokos, executive director of the Dakota Resource Council.

According to the North Dakota State Commerce Department, there are five operational lignite coal mines providing coal directly to power plants within the state. The coal plant was set to close in 2022 before Rainbow Energy Center LLC bought the company. Wind energy accounted for 34% of electric generation in 2021, according to the EIA.

Your News Leader reached out multiple times for comments from Coal Creek Station and Rainbow Energy Center LLC and have yet to receive an answer.

White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre clarified the president’s statement on Saturday saying Biden’s words were twisted and taken out of context. Jean-Pierre says the president was talking about the importance of using technology to make an energy transition in the future.

“President Biden just doesn’t get it. Americans are paying record-high energy prices due to the Biden administration’s policies, and the president’s remarks about shutting down coal plants are just wrong. Coal provides affordable and reliable baseload power that is available 24/7, regardless of weather conditions, and in North Dakota, we are leading the way in ensuring a bright future for this vital energy source and will continue to utilize it for generations to come.

The same applies to our vast oil and natural gas reserves in the Bakken. We need more U.S. domestic oil production to lower prices at the pump and provide long-term relief from inflation. That’s why we are fighting tooth and nail to get the Biden administration to take the handcuffs off our energy industry so we can produce more oil and gas in North Dakota for our nation,” said North Dakota Senator John Hoeven.

The Inflation Reduction Act offers a 10 percent tax credit bonus if a clean energy facility is constructed at a brownfield site or a fossil fuel area.