Dakota Resource Council supports EPA’s “death penalty” for North Dakota coal

Photo: Great River Energy

The Dakota Resource Council recently told the North Dakota Monitor that it supports the Biden administration’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations that experts from the North Dakota Division of Environmental Quality have called a “death penalty” for North Dakota’s coal-fired power plants.

According to the North Dakota Monitor:

Scott Skokos of the Dakota Resource Council, an environmental group, said the rule shouldn’t come as a surprise to the coal industry. The Mercury and Air Toxics Standards started under the Obama administration to reduce the health threats of mercury.  

“These rules have been in the hopper for years,” Skokos said in an interview. 

He said his group is supportive of the rule. 

“We don’t need to be living like we did in the 1960s as far as environmental regulations, because from what I’ve seen from our Industrial Commission, that’s what they want,” Skokos said. 

Skokos’s portrayal of the Biden Administration’s proposed Mercury and Air Toxics Standards (MATS) is inaccurate.

During the Obama years, the EPA acknowledged the unique circumstances that North Dakota coal plants faced due to the chemistry of the deposits and the fact that these power plants are built right on top of the coal mine, eliminating the possibility that the coal could be blended with other coal to reduce emissions. As a result, the Obama EPA created separate standard for lignite plants based on these unique characteristics.

Now, the Biden EPA is seeking to eliminate that separate standard put in place by the Obama administration and to replace it with even stricter standards that may not be possible to comply with, which is why North Dakota environmental regulators have called it a death penalty for North Dakota coal.

Furthermore, Skokos’s reference to the 1960s could not be more misleading because America has made tremendous progress reducing mercury emissions from power plants. In fact, mercury emissions from U.S. coal plants have plummeted by 93.5 percent since 2008 (before the MATS rules were introduced in 2011 and implemented in 2015) while North Dakota’s power plants continued to produce reliable, affordable electricity.

In fact, mercury emissions from U.S. power plants have fallen so much they produce less mercury than small-scale mining operations in Africa, Asia, and South America, global cement production, and even cremations, according to United Nation’s data. The mercury emissions from North Dakota power plants are even smaller.

The Dakota Resource Council has a history of taking money from the the Energy Foundation, which has ties to the Chinese Communist Party. It also has a history of opposing North Dakota’s fossil fuel industry, including its opposition fo the Dakota Access Pipeline, and now its support for onerous EPA regulations that will destroy North Dakota’s coal industry.

This means the loss of more than 12,000 direct and indirect jobs in North Dakota’s coal-producing region, and $104 million in state and local tax revenues to support schools and build roads and bridges.

Closing these coal plants down would weaken North Dakota, and America, by destroying a vital local industry and making us more reliant upon unreliable wind turbines and solar panels that are frequently built using Chinese materials.

The only people who benefit from these regulations are people with a vested interest in weakening the U.S. and strenthening our adversaries.