BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — The developer of an oil refinery near Theodore Roosevelt National Park will keep its construction permit active, even after it has faced delays and received two extensions.
North Dakota environmental officials have determined Meridian Energy Group has made enough progress on the $1 billion project this summer to keep the permit active.
Environmental Engineer David Stroh was among the state’s air quality officials who met with Meridian last week to go over the contract to see whether it satisfied the conditions for the permit.
“They’ve done what they need to do,” he said. “As far as we’re concerned regarding air quality, they’ve commenced construction of a facility.”
Meridian Energy Group first proposed the refinery just 3 miles (5 kilometers) from the park in 2016, with the goal of having it operating by next year. However, the project has faced funding and legal setbacks.
The project is opposed by environmental groups in part because of its proximity to the national park in the Badlands.
Meridian cited several reasons for the delays, including lawsuits filed by environmental groups over the permitting process, as well as the coronavirus pandemic, which led to a downturn in the oil industry last year, the Bismarck Tribune reported.
The state last granted an extension of the permit in June. The permit would have expired this week if officials had not determined that Meridian had met the conditions needed to keep it active.