Tennant, Heitkamp tour WVU NRCCE, talk clean coal bill

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April 6, 2014 By Jacob Bojesson, WVU Daily Athenaeum

Morgantown, W.Va.–West Virginia Secretary of State Natalie Tennant and North Dakota Senator Heidi Heitkamp took a tour of the National Research Center for Coal & Energy at West Virginia University Friday to promote and discuss investments in coal technology.

Tennant, who is running for the U.S. Senate in the fall, opposes job-killing regulations on coal-field power plants and wants West Virginia and WVU to hold a leading position in the coal research and technology developments.

“I will fight these EPA job-killing regulations that are shutting down our coal fire power plants because they’re unrealistic and unfair,” Tennant said. “We should be putting that investment here into advanced coal technology to see what can take place and how we can propel coal and push coal along.”

Heitkamp is currently pushing for legislation in Congress to get more resources for advanced coal technologies like those being developed at WVU.

Tennant invited Heitkamp to WVU to showcase the NRCCE as a prime candidate for Heitkamp’s clean coal bill.

“We’re on coal and natural gas, and West Virginia can be the test bed. We can be the research and development that you see right here,” Tennant said. “I’m certainly proud of what they are doing here, and those investments and those solutions can happen here in West Virginia. We have all those resources.”

During the short tour led by students and faculty, Tennant and Heitkamp got to see and test some of the features of the NRCCE including a 3-D simulation of a gas turbine.

Heitkamp said she was impressed by resources available at WVU but said the political climate in the country makes for an uphill battle.

“In Washington, the real challenge is telling the coal story,” Heitkamp said. “We’re so far behind the curve in terms of the narrator, and one of the things that makes it tough is when you polarize positions. We think the clean coal bill that we introduced is a start, but we also need to have rational regulations, and it scares the market.”

Heitkamp said the support for her bill is growing stronger, and states like West Virginia and North Dakota need to work together in the future process.

“What I’m trying to do is expand the network beyond Joe Manchin’s to really have a broader conversation and try to neutralize some of the oppositions and have a discussion,” Heitkamp said. “We’ve gotten a couple of good calls, and I think we’ve got some good support at deal.”

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