Senators turned down Trump's proposed budget cuts to coal research.

The Senate Committee on Appropriations has passed a bill out of committee that rejected the president’s proposed 55 percent funding cut to the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Fossil Energy. These would have included funding cuts of at least 84 percent to carbon capture, utilization and storage programs important to North Dakota's coal industry's goal of reducing carbon emissions from power plants.

“We need to make sure the federal resources are there to help make that goal possible," said Sen. Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., who, along with 15 other Democrats, had sent a letter to the subcommittee drafting the budget bill urging them not to make the proposed cuts.

North Dakota's other lawmakers also have voiced support for clean coal research.

The endangered funding was particularly important to research and development programs, including work done at the Energy and Environmental Research Center at the University of North Dakota. 

In addition to maintaining research funding, the bill instructs the U.S. Department of Energy to create a national energy strategy that will keep coal in the U.S. energy mix.

The appropriations bill is waiting for a floor vote, which could take some time as health care dominates the agenda.

Reach Jessica Holdman at 701-250-8261 or jessica.holdman@bismarcktribune.com

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