BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) – A proposed oil refinery close to the picturesque Theodore Roosevelt National Park has met federal and state air pollution rules but must undergo a period of public comment before a permit can be issued, North Dakota health officials said.
A state Health Department review that began last spring determined that Meridian Energy Group Inc. has met all of the requirements for an air quality permit for the planned Davis Refinery, which will cost more than $800 million. Several groups oppose the project, fearing it will pollute the park whose eastern boundary is only about 3 miles (5 kilometers) away.
A public comment period on a draft permit will begin Friday and end Jan. 26, with a public hearing set for Jan. 17 at Dickinson State University, according to state Air Quality Director Terry O’Clair.
The 700-acre (280-hectare) refinery complex would process up to 49,500 barrels of Bakken crude per day into a variety of fuels. Meridian says it will be the “cleanest refinery on the planet” and a model for environmentally friendly technology.
Supporters point to the refinery’s potential impact on the economy. It could create 500 construction jobs and permanent jobs for 200 people in the area, while generating millions of dollars in local property taxes each year.
CEO William Prentice on Wednesday called the state’s draft air quality permit a “milestone” for the project, though he acknowledged the company expects a contentious public comment process. . .
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