The Democratic candidate for North Dakota Public Service Commission outlined his plan Monday for making the state a hub of lignite coal technology.
Brad Crabtree of Kulm spoke at a news conference in Minot on his proposed strategies for tax credits, loan guarantees and carbon dioxide pipelines to advance clean coal plants in the state.
Crabtree said he would work with legislators, the State Industrial Commission and other regulators at a national level to promote his recommendations.
Brad Crabtree holds a news conference in Minot Monday to discuss clean coal initiatives.
"I believe as an elected commissioner, I can and should play a role in advocating for some of these opportunities," he said.
He said the oil industry needs carbon dioxide to enhance production of mature wells, but it cannot cover the full cost of deploying the next generation of clean coal technologies.
"Federal and state tax credits and other incentives will be needed for the remaining gap that private investment cannot fill," Crabtree said.
His Republican opponent, state Sen. Randy Christmann of Hazen, responded that the state has been offering incentives and promoting policies to encourage the lignite industry. He supported the creation of the state Pipeline Authority in 2007 and co-sponsored a bill in 2009 granting tax credits for capturing carbon dioxide.
"We have done a lot of work over the years to put the stepping stones in place for this to happen when the timing is right and it's feasible financially," he said.
However, he said, capturing carbon dioxide from coal-fired electrical-generating plants hasn't been proven feasible outside the laboratory. Until that time, spending more taxpayer and putting more mandates on companies isn't the right approach, he said.
Crabtree, as policy director at the Great Plains Institute, co-directs the National Enhanced Oil Recovery Initiative, a nationwide coalition of industry executives, state officials, and labor and environmental advocates working to increase domestic oil production using carbon dioxide captured from coal and other industrial facilities, a process that Basin Electric helped pioneer at Dakota Gasification in Beulah.
"While our state is understandably focused on the many challenges of the Bakken oil boom, the risks to North Dakota's coal-based energy sector are urgent and growing," Crabtree said. "We must begin taking action now if we are to preserve our lignite industrial and jobs base and avoid having one of North Dakota's great industries fade away."
He is recommending that North Dakota:
- Develop a carbon dioxide pipeline infrastructure that would take the byproduct from coal-fired plants and transport it to the oil field, where it can be used in enhanced oil recovery. The PSC is responsible for siting and approving pipelines.
- Establish a state loan guarantee program for advanced lignite coal facilities, similar to a program created in 2011 by the Bank of North Dakota to support private sector investment in new biomass technologies.
- Establish state tax credits and other incentives for advanced lignite technology in addition to existing tax credits and grants for lignite technology demonstration, development of carbon dioxide pipelines and enhanced oil recovery projects.
Crabtree said having tax credits and loan guarantees will make North Dakota attractive to companies looking at siting clean coal facilities. He said industry experts tell him that federal rules requiring cleaner technology are inevitable. The only question is how quickly they come about, he said.
"We need to make sure we are prepared," he said. "We need to take these steps now so we are ready when the time comes."