The proposed $800 – million Davis Refinery in Billings County was supposed to break ground this year, but the people who support the project are optimistic about the new year.
“It has been very frustrating. The folks that built the refinery down in Dickinson got their air quality permits a lot quicker than we did,” said Bill Prentice, CEO of Meridian Energy Group.
Meridian received some good news this month when the North Dakota State Health Department said the energy group met all requirements for an air quality permit.
“When we get the final permit here in a few months . . we will break ground,” said Prentice.
Meridian expects the proposed refinery to create more than 2000 jobs in the Billing County area.
“I think the refinery is going to be a real great thing. Its going to help with the tax base in Billings County,” said Allan Richard, land owner in Billings County.
There will be a public input period on the air quality draft permit, and one of them will be at Dickinson State University on Jan. 17.
Those who oppose the project are concerned with the proximity of the proposed refinery to Theodore Roosevelt National Park.
“I can tell you straightout. You will be able to see that refinery from the Eastern part of the park. That’s an issue,” said Jan Swenson, Exec. Dir. Badlands Conservation Alliance.
Thomas Johnson, operations manager for the Davis Refinery, said the location gives the refinery access to highways and railways, and visual test have proven it will be out of site.
“The opposition. . . they really don’t understand what we are building here”.
The refinery will use very little ambient light at night, and it will use little more than 100 of the 700 acres that was rezoned for it by the Billings County Commission.
“We are are going to have a very wide buffer zone around the refinery that is going to be dedicated to native plants,” said Prentice.
If the public input meetings go good on the air quality draft permit , Meridian hope to break ground in March.