At Senate Hearing, Daines Slams Biden Anti-Energy Policies for Killing Montana Jobs, Hurting Rural Communities

Calls Out Administration for Radical Rules That Would Shut Down Colstrip Power Plant

U.S. SENATE – U.S. Senator Steve Daines at a Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee hearing slammed the Biden administration for their anti-energy policies that are hurting America’s national security and devastating Montana jobs. Daines called attention to Biden administration rules that would force Colstrip Power Plant to close and asked a Biden official about Montana’s grid reliability.

Watch Daines’ full remarks HERE.

Senator Daines on the Biden administration’s attack on made-in-America energy:

Watch Daines’ opening remarks HERE.

Senator Daines: Chairman, thank you. Ranking Member Brasso, thank you as well. Since taking office, the Biden administration has promulgated rule after rule, attacking Montana oil, Montana gas, Montana coal. At this moment in history, as you’re watching what’s happening in the Middle East, the world unraveling, whether it’s what’s happened with Putin invading Ukraine and natural gas, whether what’s seen with the Biden administration releasing sanctions on Iranian oil, at the same time shutting down Alaska oil, shutting down the Keystone Pipeline, shutting down oil and gas production wherever they can. It’s insane and it ties right back to national security. I don’t know why this administration is not trying to do all it can to produce more made-in-America energy; coal, oil, natural gas. We’ve got anti-coal EPA regulations like MATS and the Clean Power Plan 2.0. This administration is doing everything they can to kill jobs and make my home state of Montana an energy importer rather than the energy hub it has been and would continue to be if the administration left their hands off our state.

We should be able to come together to promote carbon capture technology, to reduce carbon emissions, to maintain a stable grid, to build jobs, but instead this administration is focused on an ideology that’s become a religion, focused on regulate first, ask questions later.

Daines questions Mr. Pigott on the EPA’s impossible-to-meet standards:

Watch the exchange HERE.

Senator Daines: Mr. Pigott, the EPA has proposed rules like MATS and Clean Power Plan 2.0 that seem to be directly focused on shutting down the Colstrip power plant in Montana. Both rules appear to give an ultimatum: Install prohibitively expensive capture technology in a very short time period or shut down. Neither rule gives coal plants like Colstrip the time or the money to meet these prohibitive standards. Instead, they set unattainable requirements in hopes that Colstrip will be forced to shut down. Instead of overregulating, we should be focused on innovation, making carbon capture technology affordable for coal plants to install to meet these carbon reduction goals. Mr. Pigott, why is the EPA charging forward with these impossible-to-meet standards before technology like CCUS is widely commercialized and affordable?

Mr. Pigott: Senator Daines, thank you for the question. I will say the issues of air quality regulations are not within my wheelhouse. So, I’m not prepared to answer the questions about where we are or the impact of those. But what is in my wheelhouse is the carbon capture permitting program, the Class 6 program. And we are committed to ensure that we put in place the resources, which why we’re announcing today that we’re getting the $50 million that you in Congress have allocated to states to assume primacy, because we believe states are critical partners in ensuring that we get these Class 6 programs off the ground and running and we are fully committed to doing so and doing it correctly.

Senator Daines: But we can’t, it’s a noble statement, but it’s unattainable based on the timelines that have been set here. The technology is not ready for prime time. And I recognize, maybe you’re not in that specifically at the EPA, but please help us here, because you’re talking out of two sides of the mouth in saying, “We want this technology to produce carbon, but we’re not going to allow the technology time to mature.” I’m a chemical engineer by degree, I’m big in innovation, love the idea that we continue to make coal an important part of our energy future because it will be as we look long-term because the sun doesn’t always shine and the wind doesn’t always blow. I’m not opposed to renewable energy; it’s just we need to expand our portfolio when the world’s going to need 50 percent more energy in the next 25 years than we use today. 

Mr. Pigott: Senator, I come from Indiana where for 20 years I worked at the Indiana Department of Environmental Management as you probably know, it’s a coal state. So, I’m well aware of the concerns about providing reliable energy and I’m committed to ensuring that we put in place an effective Class 6 program that issues permits in a timely manner and I’m happy to communicate with our folks in the Office of Air Quality the concerns that you’ve had. 

Senator Daines: Maybe they’ll watch the hearing and they’ll hear directly as well, it would be helpful. It’s deaf ears right now. I don’t think they want to hear. I really don’t. I’ve been around, watched this long enough to see. They really want to see these plants shut down. They think it’s a noble cause. It’s part of their, their belief they’re doing the right thing here for everybody in doing so.

Daines questions Assistant Secretary Crabtree on EPA’s drastic effect on Montana’s grid reliability:

Watch the exchange HERE.

Senator Daines: Assistant Secretary Crabtree, the Department of Energy plays an important role in ensuring grid reliability. Is the department reviewing the EPA rules and the drastic effect they have on the reliability of the grid in places like Montana and the rest of the country?

Assistant Secretary Crabtree: Senator, yes, as you know, we’re not the regulator here, but we do provide technical input on the regulations with respect to reliability. I would urge a more optimistic perspective on the technology as someone who has been an advocate for carbon capture for over two decades now in the timeframes that are in the legislation or I’m sorry in the regulation and what we’re doing with respect to the build out of—

Senator Daines: With all due respect, are they talking to the folks right now, the engineers, the project managers, who are in charge of delivering this? That’s the problem. I mean, there’s a major disconnect here in terms of probably the time I think it’s really going to take versus the EPA mandates that are coming out, and it’s an existential threat to our operations in Montana. And grid reliability is really important – if you don’t have baseload power, you don’t have grid reliability as you know.

Assistant Secretary Crabtree: Well, and that’s why I think carbon capture is so important because it allows us to decarbonize power generation and have that 24 /7 dispatchable power. And I’m very optimistic about, I’m working with companies that are literally have projects over the next decade where they hope to manage a significant portion of their emissions.

Senator Daines: Have you meshed that with the EPA mandates that are coming down to make sure there’s enough room to get both accomplished? Have you looked at that in detail?

Assistant Secretary Crabtree: Well, our technical team has, yes.

Statement of Support:

 “The EPA’s proposed MATS and greenhouse gas emissions standards accelerate a premature retirement of Colstrip. Without a delay in compliance with the MATS standard for non-particulate metals at Colstrip in particular, reliability of the grid will be at risk and compliance with the EPA’s proposed greenhouse gas emissions standards through carbon capture will be even more impractical. We are happy to see Senator Daines encourage review of these proposed air rules by the Department of Energy and look forward to working on a path forward.”– Brian Bird, President and CEO of NorthWestern Energy