- Associated Press - Monday, February 22, 2021

MINOT, N.D. (AP) - Bills to help North Dakota’s coal industry are getting some traction as the state’s Legislature nears its halfway break.

The Minot Daily News reports the current session has had more than its usual number of energy-related bills, particularly those aimed at coal. The newspaper reports that Great River Energy’s plans to close its Coal Creek generating station near Washburn next year has raised alarms for the coal industry.

The bills range from tax holidays to providing more research money to support coal.

Sen. Jessica Bell, a Republican from Beulah, has introduced several energy bills. One would appropriate $40 million for a fund aimed at moving carbon capture technology from testing toward commercial use.

Scott Skokos, executive director of Dakota Resource Council, a group that supports sustainable use of natural resources, said his organization doesn’t oppose clean coal technologies being proposed but questions their feasibility and whether government money should be used to pay for development.

He said some of the bills are “last-ditch efforts” by North Dakota’s dominant Republicans to go all-in on carbon capture and lower emissions rather than diversifying the state’s energy portfolio.

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