By Dan Brouillette, Secretary of Energy
Last week, I traveled to Montana where I met with energy leaders from the private and public sectors. While the coronavirus pandemic impacted all aspects of our economy, few sectors were impacted as deeply as our oil, natural gas, and coal industries. But, as I told the Department of Energy (DOE) stakeholders in the Treasure State, the Trump Administration is working diligently to ensure that these industries will emerge from the COVID-19 downturn stronger than ever. American energy dominance will continue, and Montana will play a key role in our resurgence.
Montana is the leader in providing abundant, affordable, and reliable energy to Americans throughout the Mountain West region. It is one of the top producers of coal and home to the nation’s single largest underground natural gas storage site. Its role in our energy landscape is why we’ve invested $21 million into Montana.
As part of my trip, I had the privilege of touring the Colstrip Mine. The Trump Administration is determined to be innovative in the future use of coal to make it cleaner, more reliable, and expand its uses for the American people. For example, DOE is committed to its Carbon Capture, Utilization, and Storage (CCUS) research and development (R&D) program, and recently announced $72 million in federal funding to support the further development and advancement of carbon capture technologies. This effort will boost the comprehensive portfolio of technological solutions that will help keep CO2 emissions from entering the atmosphere, while ensuring that we can continue to use carbon for energy.
But, we also want to discover new ways of using coal via “coal-to-products.” DOE is investing in research to determine how to transform coal into products like building material, carbon fiber, and 3D printing materials from coal feedstocks. DOE just announced $122 million for research projects aimed at developing technological solutions to extract critical minerals, especially rare earth elements, and other valuable resources from our Nation’s abundant coal reserves.
This technology will have a direct impact on the people of Montana and, when commercially available, bring hundreds of jobs to the region.
I also discussed the state’s economic potential surrounding natural gas. These fuels are vital to every American’s way of life. But, Montana’s abundant natural gas is only valuable if it is safely and efficiently delivered to homes and businesses. Therefore, DOE is investing in research to improve natural gas infrastructure.
The Natural Gas Infrastructure Program run by our National Energy Technology Laboratory specifically focuses on:
- Developing next-generation pipeline materials,
- Advancing external leak detection, and
- Repairing pipeline damage without disruption of service.
Earlier this year, the Department announced $25 million in funding opportunities to develop tools, methods, and technologies to enhance the safety and efficiency of the Nation’s natural gas storage and transmission infrastructure.
These programs will help ensure Montana continues to reap the benefits of its natural gas storage and transport capabilities. In turn, Montana will help power our post-pandemic economic comeback. I’m proud of the work DOE is doing in and for the state.