Press Release Jun 29, 2020

Appeals Court Ruling Upholds Air Permit for Proposed Refinery Near Theodore Roosevelt National Park

Today’s ruling is a major setback for the preservation of Theodore Roosevelt National Park and all it protects. 

Medora, ND – The North Dakota Supreme Court today denied the National Parks Conservations Association’s appeal of the North Dakota Southwest District Court’s decision to uphold an air permit issued to the proposed Meridian Energy Group refinery near Theodore Roosevelt National Park. The refinery would produce 55,000 barrels of crude oil per day, releasing substantial amounts of carbon monoxide, volatile organic compounds, and other hazardous pollutants into the national park and surrounding communities.

In 2019, the North Dakota district court ruled in favor of the industrial refinery, determining that the state’s issuance of a “minor” air quality permit, based on estimated pollutant analysis provided by Meridian Energy Group, was appropriate. However, independent analysis has shown that Meridian significantly underestimated or omitted emissions in its application to the state. Unlike the “major” source permit, the “minor” air quality permit issued by the state does not require a rigorous assessment of pollution impacts as well as strong pollution controls. Today’s decision allows Meridian to rely on the air permit to begin construction and emit pollution from its refinery, located less than 3 miles from the doorsteps of Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

NPCA is represented in this case by Braaten Law Firm, based in Bismarck, ND.

Statement by Stephanie Kodish, Clean Air Program Director for the National Parks Conservation Association:

“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 this permit and now one of America’s most special places, it’s wildlife and visitors and the communities that live nearby will be the ones paying the price for years to come. The Court’s ruling disregards all who care about our national parks, including the more than 10,000 people who voiced their concerns that the refinery would destroy the air we breathe and put the park and the local economies at risk.

“Today’s ruling is unacceptable, but the battle is not over, and NPCA will continue to work to protect Theodore Roosevelt National Park for generations to come.”

Statement by JJ England, Attorney for Braaten Law Firm:

“This permit has been flawed from the beginning. NPCA has been on the right side of the facts, science, and law in this fight against the Davis Refinery, and NPCA should be applauded for taking this permit to North Dakota’s highest court. Today’s ruling is disappointing. Although today is a sad day for Theodore Roosevelt National Park, the fight is also far from over.“


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 nearly 1.4 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

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