BISMARCK, N.D. _ Standing in front of a mini power plant used to teach students at the Bismarck State College National Energy Center of Excellence, Sens. John Hoeven, R-N.D., and Ron Wyden, D-Ore., kicked off their North Dakota energy tour Friday.
“I really wanted to get him out and show what’s going on in North Dakota,” Hoeven said.
Wyden, who is chairman of the Senate Energy Committee, visited North Dakota as part of a set of trips he has taken to energy destinations across the country — including West Virginia and Alaska — to look at energy issues in each area.
Besides the stop at BSC, the senators visited Coal Creek Station power plant to see the plant, its coal ash recycling, the reclamation projects of the Falkirk Mine and the partnership using excess steam to power the Blue Flint Ethanol Plant.
The senators also traveled west to the oil fields to see a Whiting Oil drill rigs, an Oneok natural gas plant and a Target Logistics man camp.
Hoeven said it was his goal to convince Wyden “a state’s first approach to energy development can do a good job developing energy for the country” and that it can be done with “good environmental stewardship.”
Infrastructure build-up is the reason Wyden was interested in North Dakota.
“It’s clear that to tap into opportunities for growth, you’ve got to have infrastructure,” he said. “To make sure we get gas to market, we need pipelines.”
Wyden suggests “smart” pipelines with leak detection for methane gases. He said the building of pipelines themselves would create jobs, and made the point that energy development should bring a balance of jobs, affordable power and protect the environment.
Hoeven said energy industry regulation is best handled by states first and the Environmental Protection Agency second because external factors — like the geology of an area — cause operations to be different from one state to the next.
Wyden said he agrees the “best ones (regulations) give states wide berth” but said he does think there’s a role for the federal government in energy development.
Wyden suggested the federal government would be the best to handle the reporting of spills and the disclosure of chemicals. Hoeven suggested the federal government would have a role in passing on information about one state’s energy practices to people in other states.