One of the last things I’m thinking about when visiting a National Park is an oil refinery. While not inside the park, Meridian Energy Group is planning on building an oil refinery less than 3 miles outside of Theodore Roosevelt National Park, west of Belfield, North Dakota.
The National Parks Conservation Association’s (NPCA) appeal of a lower court ruling was denied by the North Dakota Supreme Court. The original lawsuit revolved around the issuance of a clean air permit by the Department of Environmental Quality in June 2018. The NPCA contended that the proposed refinery would release large quantities of carbon monoxide and other hazardous materials and chemicals and that the application Meridian Energy Group had submitted to the state significantly underestimated potential emissions/pollutants. According to The Dickinson Press, an independent study confirmed the above accusations, however, the North Dakota Supreme Court ruled the decision by the Department of Environmental Quality was “reasonable.”
“The department did not act arbitrarily, capriciously, or unreasonably in issuing the permit”
– Jon J. Jensen, North Dakota Supreme Court Chief Justice
The ruling by the North Dakota Supreme Court allows for the construction of the facility to continue, with an expected completion date of 2023/2024. William Prentice, Chairman & CEO of Meridian, estimates several hundred temporary jobs during the construction phase and up to 200 permanent jobs after completion. The facility is expected to produce 55,000 barrels of crude oil per day and cost an estimated $1 billion to construct.
While the ruling was not in their favor, the NPCA plans to appeal the ruling and continue the fight.
“Today’s ruling is a major setback for the preservation of Theodore Roosevelt National Park and all it protects. From the start, the state has attempted to cut corners in approving the permit and now one of America’s most special places, its wildlife and visitors and the communities that live nearby will be the ones paying the price for years to come.”
– Stephanie Kodish, Clean Air Program Director for the NPCA
I’m sure this isn’t the last news we’ll hear about this ongoing battle. Until then, I’ll be keeping an eye on it into the future.