Theodore Roosevelt National Park honors the 26th President of the United States by protecting over 70,000 acres of the rugged badlands landscape that inspired his conservation ethic over a century ago. The Park is made up of three separate units—the North Unit, the South Unit, and the Elkhorn Ranch Unit—which in total received nearly 750,000 visitors in 2018.
The park is located in western North Dakota, in the same area as the Bakken Formation, a major source of domestic oil production. The oil boom in the Bakken has brought numerous environmental threats to the area, including significant air pollution from the venting and flaring of natural gas. This air pollution is already impacting Theodore Roosevelt National Park, exacerbating respiratory problems for visitors and causing haziness that clouds previously crystal-clear vistas. Increasing fossil fuel and industrial development around the park also brings light pollution and odors, and discourages visitors.
Challenged Proposed Oil Refinery
ELPC challenged the siting of Meridian Energy’s proposed Davis Refinery, an oil refinery that would be built just 3 miles outside Theodore Roosevelt National Park. ELPC and its allies brought a lawsuit in 2018 challenging the deeply flawed air permit for the facility. Meridian Energy also told investors and regulators that the refinery would be capable of refining 55,000 barrels of oil per day which triggers a siting review by the North Dakota Public Service Commission. Meridian refused to undergo that siting review causing ELPC to bring a complaint before the Commission. Suddenly, Meridian Energy changed its tune claiming that the refinery would actually be 10% smaller than originally planned so no siting permit would be necessary. Meridian provided no evidence that it had actually changed its plans. This legal challenge went all the way up to the North Dakota Supreme Court, where we unfortunately lost (not without strong dissent from the Chief Justice). But we didn’t back down from this important fight.
Defending Common-sense Methane Standards
ELPC has been involved in a national coalition that brought and intervened in multiple lawsuits to defend the Bureau of Land Management’s updates to methane standards for oil and gas development on federal and Tribal lands. These common-sense and critically important standards would reduce the air pollution and climate impacts from oil and gas development while improving public health.