- Associated Press - Monday, February 24, 2014

WASHINGTON (AP) - The Environmental Protection Agency’s administrator will visit North Dakota to get a firsthand look at the state’s booming energy industry and environmental issues.

Gina McCarthy said Monday she would visit the Bismarck area at the invitation of U.S. Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, who has been a regular Democratic critic of some of the Obama administration’s energy and environmental policies.

McCarthy said she was looking forward to spending time with Heitkamp and North Dakota residents.

“North Dakota offers the country a broad array of energy opportunities,” McCarthy said in a statement. “I’m glad Senator Heitkamp invited me to visit and I’m looking forward to spending time with her and hearing the views of the state’s residents.”

Heitkamp has been critical of the Obama administration on its coal policy as well as other energy-related issues, including delays of the proposed Canada-to-Texas Keystone XL oil pipeline. She said McCarthy’s decision to visit North Dakota dates back to a meeting they had when McCarthy was up for Senate confirmation.

“I raised a lot of these issues then - about carbon regional haze, existing conflicts on coal ash as well as some concerns I had about a one size fits all approach to oil and gas regulation,” Heitkamp said in an interview. “I said, ‘You really need to come out to North Dakota because we are the epitome of an all of the above energy policy.”

Heitkamp said she would make sure McCarthy heard directly from North Dakotans.

“She needs to hear these stories directly,” Heitkamp said. “So she can understand that everybody wants to be responsive and abide by the law and so that she doesn’t set standards that are impossible or prohibitively expensive.”

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