The bipartisan infrastructure bill that recently passed the House will bring more than $2 billion in funding to North Dakota for roads and bridges as well as $200 million in water projects. But it also contains several key provisions for energy and agriculture.
Among these is an $18 billion investment in the future of carbon capture, utilization and storage and carbon dioxide pipelines.
The funding could be a boon to North Dakota carbon capture projects, including Project Tundra and the more recent Great River Energy Plant, now known as Rainbow Center. Successful, economic carbon capture at these plants could help point the way ahead for other coal facilities in both North Dakota and neighboring Montana.
Another key element of the bill that has been less publicized defines “clean” hydrogen in a way that will include blue hydrogen, which North Dakota plans to produce at the Synfuels plant near Beulah. Mitsubishi Power Americas has teamed up with Bakken Energy to construct what is expected to be one of North America’s largest hydrogen hubs. It will be part of a larger network Mitsubishi is working on to transport and deliver hydrogen fuel across the nation.
The bill also contains Sen. Kevin Cramer’s REGROW Act, which allocates $16 billion for cleaning up abandoned mines and orphaned oil and gas wells. The idea has met favor on both sides of the aisle, including from President Biden, as a way to create jobs for the oil and gas industry while addressing leaking methane gas.
On the agriculture side, the bill has $65 billion for rural broadband, carbon removal, firefighting, forest management resources, tree planting, and more.
The bipartisan bill passed the House 228 to 206, after months of political infighting between moderates and progressives over key provisions in the companion reconciliation bill, which contains the bulk of President Biden’s climate agenda.
Ultimately, the bipartisan bill was decoupled from the reconciliation bill, prompting six progressive Democrats to vote against it. Thirteen Republicans, meanwhile, voted for it, but North Dakota’s Rep. Kelly Armstrong was not among them.
“From day one, Democrats have made it clear that the infrastructure bill and their partisan reconciliation bill are linked,” Armstrong said. “One won’t pass without the other. Together, they are an at least $3 trillion social engineering project that will increase taxes, cause consumer costs to explode, and usher in more government control over the lives of Americans. North Dakotans sent me to Congress to fight out of control spending and rein in our national debt. We cannot continue to spend money we don’t have and saddle future generations with the consequences of reckless spending.”
North Dakota’s Senators, meanwhile, both voted for the bill in the Senate and praised the House’s passage of the plan.
“This legislation is actually the regular highway bill with additional support for traditional hard infrastructure like roads, bridges, rail, airports, and broadband,” Sen. John Hoeven said. “Also, importantly it does not raise taxes and has pay-fors including repurposing of COVID-19 funds.”
Hoeven and Cramer have both criticized the reconciliation bill, still working its way through the House, calling it a “reckless” tax-and-spend bill.
“We strongly oppose that legislation and will continue working to stop it,” Hoeven said. “Americans are already facing higher costs due to record high inflation, and the partisan tax-and-spend proposal will only exacerbate the problem. As debate continues on the tax-and-spend proposal, which has not passed in either the House or the Senate, we’ll continue to work to defeat it.”
Cramer, meanwhile, said the bipartisan bill is the right thing for both North Dakota and the nation.
“It confronts the inflation and supply chain problems facing every American,” he said. “Unlike the Democrat’s wasteful, partisan tax and spending spree, the hard infrastructure deal makes long overdue investments the roads and bridges every American uses and is fully paid for. Washington has long promised to prioritize our nation’s vast infrastructure needs, yet partisan politics have stood in the way of common sense.”
Cramer criticized Democrats for holding the bipartisan bill hostage to the reconciliation bill.
“These two bills are separate, and yesterday’s votes proved it,” Cramer said. “Bipartisan common sense prevailed while House Democrats were unable to cobble together the votes to pass a proposal they know does not have the full support form their own party, not to mention the American people.”