North Dakota okays refinery next to national park

Environmentalists and conservation groups don’t like the decision but the State of North Dakota has approved a permit for construction of an oil refinery near the Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

The decision by the North Dakota Health department in support of the Davis Refinery is considered a major victory for Meridian Energy Group based in North Dakota and California.

But it was anything but a victory for the National Parks Conservation Association, the Environmental Law and Policy Center and the Badlands Area Source Council. All issued a statement condemning the decision to allow the refinery to be located only 5 miles from the national park.

Jan Swenson, executive director of the Badlands Conservation Alliance called it a “pretty sad day for the state of North Dakota.”

But Meridian CEO William Prentice said the state review “validates” the work the company did in ensuring the plant will be the cleanest refinery on the planet.

“The confirming review by the state was the most  thorough review I’ve been involved with in my career,” said Senior Project manager Dan Hedrington.

The state decision included a public comment period that generated more than 10,000 comments. In the end, the state health department concluded the refinery will be a minor source of pollution and won’t negatively impact the national park.

Even after inspection, the refinery will need to obtain an air quality permit by proving it can meet state and federal air quality standards.

Still, opponents are concerned about the pollution in the 30,000 acre park which is North Dakota’s top tourist attraction, drawing more than 70,000 visitors a year.

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