North Dakota is known for it's energy.
Oil, coal and wind are big business in the state.
While North Dakota ranks number 2 in the nation in oil production, that black gold isn't the only energy sector powering the country.
Reporter Sarah Gustin has details on the future of coal in the US.
Roughly 30 million tons of this energy producing power are pulled out of the ground every year in North Dakota.
The BNI Center Mine at the Milton Young Station is one of 4 mines in the state, busy digging and reclaiming--contributing 4.5 million tons of coal to the state's total.
(Wade Boeshans / BNI Coal General Manager) "Coal production in North Dakota has been pretty steady for the last 20 years. In other words, there hasn't been any new facilities built since the mid 80s."
It's a mine to mouth system.
Everyday crews truck 20-thousand tons of coal from this mine to the Minnkota Power Station, just a few miles away.
("Sarah Gustin / firstname.lastname@example.org) "Supplying this 700 megawatt hour facility with the coal it needs to produce power for eastern part of the state as well as north west Minnesota.
(Wade Boeshans / BNI Coal General Manager)"Because lignite is a high moisture coal. It's not transported a long distance because you are basically transporting a lot of water."
Boeshans says while coal production levels have stayed fairly stable, he says a soft power market, slow economy, warm winter and more gas moving into the market are all factors in national coal production dropping 6% in 2011.
(Wade Boeshans / BNI Coal General Manager) "We are running at less than full capacity from midnight to five in the morning, those period of times where the market is lower. So the result of that we see some curtailment but not significant."
Boeshans says one of the biggest concerns in the industry, isn't the oil to the west, but current and future government regulations.
(Wade Boeshans / BNI Coal General Manager) "Think that at the end of the day all of our energy resources are going to be needed in the future. So there is a place for coal in that. We are approaching the point of reaching near zero emissions. I think that is in our future. But, the current regulations are taking it off the table as a potential source as fuel for the future, as energy for the future. And that is very concerning to us."
North Dakota has an 800 year supply of lignite coal, which is one of the largest in the world.
While the drag line is busy digging, the mine is just as busy putting the dirt that's being dug up right back where it was found.
The BNI Coal Center Mine disturbs about 200 acres and reclaims about 200 acres of land each year.
The mine recently received recognition for it's reclamation efforts.
The North Dakota Public Service Commission awarded BNI with a excellence in surface mining for replacing more than 250-thousand yards of poorer quality subsoil with a higher quality soil.
(Jay Volk / Environmental Services Supervisor) "We look at it from multiple standpoints. One it is has to be stable, functional and have multi-use. And that land is then data is collected over the course of many years and is proving that the productivity is equal to or in most times what was there premine conditions."
Land reclamation costs about 20-thousand dollars per acre.