Two Democratic lawmakers in the middle of bruising re-election campaigns introduced a bill Tuesday intended to protect coal country and develop technologies for domestic production.
Democratic Sens. Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota are pushing legislation directing the Energy Department to set up a program pushing coal generation. They are pushing the bill while simultaneously battling for their political lives in energy-rich states.
“Over the last decade, our nation’s electricity grid has experienced a major shift in its domestic fuel supply mix,” Manchin wrote in a joint press statement with Heitkamp. “It is critical to face the fact that fossil fuels—especially coal—will continue to play an integral role in producing our nation’s electricity for decades to come.”
With the GOP controlling a slim 51-49 majority in the Senate, a Democrat winning in this state could prove crucial in the party retaining control of the upper chamber of Congress. Manchin has found himself representing a state lurching further and further to Republican ranks.
Heitkamp is facing a similar problem in North Dakota, a Republican-leaning state with a large gas and coal producing sector. She hopes the bill — the Fossil Energy Utilization, Enhancement, and Leadership Act – will help promote coal production while remaining carbon neutral.
“This bill is an important part of an all-of-the-above energy strategy,” she said in the statement. “In a carbon constrained world, technologies this legislation will support like CCUS are essential – and this bill will get us closer to a clean and secure energy future.”
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