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Image courtesy Meridian Energy Group Inc.

Zoning action delayed again on proposed $850M oil refinery

MEDORA, N.D. (AP) — Billings County leaders have once again delayed a decision on whether to approve an $850 million oil refinery on a 700-acre site only about 3 miles from Theodore Roosevelt National Park in western North Dakota.

Houston-based Meridian Energy Group Inc. said the delay could prevent construction from starting this summer.

Meridian plans a 55,000-barrel-per-day refinery between Fryburg and Belfield. It needs zoning approval from the county, along with state permits for such things as groundwater and air quality. The state Health Department has said the plant will have to meet more stringent air quality standards because of its proximity to the park.

The county’s planning and zoning board in April recommended approval. However, the County Commission in May decided it needed more time to act on the recommendation. On Tuesday, the group decided to wait until its July 6 meeting, to allow for a public meeting with refinery developers and state regulators.

“We’ll make a day of it,” Commission Chairman Jim Arthaud said.

Meridian had asked the county to approve zoning without waiting for a decision on the state air quality permit so it could get a jump on the construction season, project manager Dan Hedrington said. The company can do preparation work at the site while it waits for state approval.

“This is actually the best (site) suited for the project,” Hedrington said. “So this is our goal, to secure this site, the permitting that’s required to build on this site.”

Related news: County wants more details on Bakken oil refinery proposed near park

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