July 13, 2018
Medora, ND – National Parks Conservation Association, the Environmental Law & Policy Center (ELPC) and the Dakota Resource Council filed a lawsuit against the State of North Dakota today, in response to the state’s issuance of an air permit for a proposed oil refinery near Theodore Roosevelt National Park.
The lawsuit, filed by ELPC and Braaten Law Firm, is in response to North Dakota Department of Health’s (NDDoH) approval of an air permit for Meridian Energy Group’s proposed Davis Refinery, which would be the first industrial-sized refinery built in more than 40 years. The plaintiffs oppose the state’s classification of the industrial refinery as a “minor” source of pollution rather than as a “major” source. The permit granted by North Dakota does not provide needed assurances that Meridian Energy will keep pollution to required levels.
“National Parks Conservation Association refuses to stand by and allow Meridian Energy Group to pollute the air within and surrounding Theodore Roosevelt National Park with its proposed oil refinery,” said Stephanie Kodish, Clean Air Program Director for National Parks Conservation Association. “The refinery would produce tens of thousands of barrels of oil each day and lacks necessary safeguards to minimize pollution. We must protect the air quality in the national park, which visitors and surrounding community members breathe, and on which the stunning views and fragile ecosystems depend. This polluting oil refinery betrays the conservation values of the park’s namesake.”
“We have to get this right. Oil refineries can be enormous polluters, and we are not confident this permit will keep air pollution levels low enough to keep the air clean in the Park and the surrounding area,” said Scott Strand, Senior Attorney at the Environmental Law & Policy Center. “The Department of Health is just taking the company’s promises as verifiable facts, and we believe that does not comply with the requirements of the law.”
“The thought of an oil refinery near your home and near a National Park is not pleasant,” said Dakota Resource Council Member Laura Grzanic. “Relying on the in-house research of an unknown company, formed to construct and operate a permanent industrial facility, is frightening. The NDDH will not test for certain hazardous pollutants such as benzene. This lack of testing puts the health and well-being of those of us who live near the proposed site or visit our National Park at risk. The NDDH should reexamine whether or not the emission numbers submitted by Meridian are realistic and also add measures to be certain that the proposed refinery is in compliance with the permit. The dangers from pollutants emitted from this refinery are not hypothetical to those of us living, working, and playing near the refinery.”
Theodore Roosevelt National Park stands as a testament to America’s conservation legacy and the very president who helped shape it. The park welcomed more than 700,000 visitors in 2017 who spent over $47 million in nearby communities, supporting over 550 local jobs.