New EPA Climate Rules Must Weigh Cost To Consumers

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Jason Bohrer
President and CEO, Lignite Energy Council
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      Jason Bohrer

      Jason Bohrer was named President and CEO of the Lignite Energy Council in June, 2013. He has spent his time at the Lignite Energy Council leading its public outreach and advocacy operations and engaging with stakeholders and government officials on behalf of the lignite coal industry.

      Jason is a 1998 graduate of North Dakota State University, where he received a degree in history. His first job after graduation was for Harris Publishing, where he oversaw the launching of a still successful magazine. He also began working in politics at this time, covering government rulemakings and elections for the company.

      He then moved directly into the field of politics as the Communications Director for the Idaho Republican Party, where he directed the communications and political operations of one a successful election cycles.
      His work there opened the door for him to become a Regional Director for U. S. Senator Larry Craig. It was in this position that he first began focusing on energy policy, as the Senator's Liaison to the nation's lead nuclear facility. He also attended George Mason University School of Law, and began to serve as the Senator's primary energy advisor.
      Jason made the transition to another Senate Office, working both as Legislative Counsel and Energy Policy Advisor to U. S. Senator James E. Risch, where he worked for two years, supporting Risch's work on the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.

      In January of 2011, Jason began working as Congressman Raul Labrador's Legislative Director, tasked with moving the first term Republican's legislative agenda. Labrador became one of the most successful and visible of the Republican class of 2010, and eventually asked Jason to serve as his Chief of Staff.

      During his ten years of work on energy policy, Jason has worked on energy policy initiatives related to coal mining and energy development, as well as nuclear energy and waste disposal, oil and gas exploration, energy tax credits, hydropower relicensing, and biomass and other renewable energy projects. He has also drafted legislation to facilitate the expansion of the nation's transmission infrastructure and improve cybersecurity protocols.

      Jason, his wife and two children live in Bismarck, ND. The Lignite Energy Council is a trade association that protects and preserves the region's valuable lignite coal related assets.

On the cusp of the Environmental Protection Agency’s announcement of proposed greenhouse gas regulations for existing coal-based power plants — expected to come on Monday — Americans in every state should understand how the EPA’s actions could affect their lives and pocketbooks.

Here in North Dakota, our economy has surged, due to the oil and gas extraction from the Bakken formation. It’s one reason our state was polled recently by Gallup as the happiest in the nation. Demand for electrical power statewide is expected to increase by 208 percent over the next 20 years. With an abundant 800-year supply of recoverable lignite coal reserves, North Dakota’s coal industry should be well-positioned to meet that demand and continue driving economic growth with low-cost, reliable power. But the proposed rules by EPA may threaten our region’s energy infrastructure.

Through numerous proposed regulations, the EPA is already trying to prevent regional utilities from building new conventional generation plants to meet increased demand. Depending upon the final EPA rules for existing power plants, utilities might be forced to close down the state’s eight coal-based power plants, which have employed thousands of North Dakotans and paid hundreds of millions of dollars to the state over the past 40 years. But this pales in comparison to the financial losses to consumers and businesses all across America that would result from losing affordable, reliable power.

According to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s report on the impact of potential new federal carbon regulations, the region of the country that includes North Dakota could suffer a loss of 27,000 jobs every year between now and 2030, as well as lose $3.2 billion in economic growth during those years.

The chamber’s findings mirror a similar study completed last year regarding the impacts of a carbon tax in North Dakota and Minnesota. The hardest-hit economic sectors in North Dakota would be the coal industry, followed by manufacturing and oil refining. In Minnesota, the hardest hit sectors would be manufacturing and refining.

Abundant lignite coal reserves already provide approximately 80 percent of the power within North Dakota as well power as to two million people throughout the Upper Midwest.  Any regulations that would require unfeasible retrofits to continue operation of existing plants would greatly impact power reliability and our economy. As studies by the chamber and other organizations have concluded, unreasonable regulations could lead to layoffs, increased costs to consumers, and depressed economic activity.