Press Release Jan 24, 2019

Court Rules for Oil Refinery Over Clean Air Near Theodore Roosevelt National Park

The proposed Davis Refinery will be the first newly constructed industrial crude oil refinery in the United States in nearly 40 years and poses a substantial threat to air quality in neighboring areas. 

Medora, ND. – The Southwest District Court of North Dakota upheld the North Dakota Department of Health air permit issued to Meridian Energy Group last year for the construction of a new refinery located near Theodore Roosevelt National Park. The proposed Davis Refinery will be the first newly constructed industrial crude oil refinery in the United States in nearly 40 years and poses a substantial threat to air quality in neighboring areas.

National Park Conservation Association, the Environmental Law & Policy Center, and the Dakota Resource Council argued that the air permit fails to provide adequate limits for the refinery’s pollution and doesn’t adequately monitor pollutants as necessary to protect local air quality. The groups urged for a different air permit with stronger air quality requirements is mandated under Clean Air Act directives. A stronger permit would decrease the likelihood of degraded air quality in nearby Theodore Roosevelt National Park and surrounding communities. In its decision, the district court ignored problems with the permit and neglected North Dakota citizens and visitors need for clean air.

“The court ruling effectively gives a green light for the Davis Refinery to pollute the air at Theodore Roosevelt National Park and surrounding communities,” said Stephanie Kodish, Clean Air Program Director for the National Parks Conservation Association. “North Dakota Department of Health needs to be held accountable for issuing a weak permit and allowing the Davis refinery to continue as planned. We’re carefully reviewing this decision and considering all options to continue to defend the national park and neighboring communities.”

“Courts do not like to overturn the decisions of administrative agencies. We understand that,” said Scott Strand, attorney for the Environmental Law & Policy Center. “But this is a situation where the record is clear that the department of health knew that Meridian’s permit application was not credible, but let it go anyway. We will of course explore all of our options.“

“I am concerned that the health and well-being of those of us that live and work near the proposed refinery will be adversely affected. Maybe not today but certainly over time,” said Linda Weiss, Chair of Badlands Area Resource Council, an affiliate of Dakota Resource Council. I hoped the strongest air permit would be required to protect the people that will breathe in what comes out of the refinery but that is not the case.”

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About National Parks Conservation Association: Since 1919, the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association has been the leading voice in safeguarding our national parks. NPCA and its more than 1.3 million members and supporters work together to protect and preserve our nation’s most iconic and inspirational places for future generations. For more information, visit www.npca.org.