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Meridian given more time to begin refinery construction

Jun 18, 2021  | Ep4644

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota regulators have set another deadline for Meridian Energy Group to begin construction on its $1 billion oil refinery near Theodore Roosevelt National Park or risk losing its permit.

Meridian's permit from the state Department of Environmental Quality was set to expire last Saturday unless construction had begun on the Davis Refinery.

Earlier this month the company asked for an extension on that deadline, citing delays related to the coronavirus pandemic and litigation. Recent lawsuits against Meridian have called into question the company's ability to pay workers, the Bismarck Tribune reported.

Regulators granted an extension until Sept. 12 to start construction, a month short of what Meridian had requested.

"The reasons seemed to make sense and we thought, 'We'll give you guys the summer to hopefully work out your stuff and then start construction,'" state Environmental Engineer David Stroh said. "We requested an update from them in a little over a month so we could get a better feel for how things are progressing out there, knowing there's a lot of attention to this facility."

Refinery opponents are concerned in part about its proximity to the national park. The North Dakota Supreme Court issued a pair of rulings last year clearing the way for the refinery to move forward.

Meridian's request for an extension is the second time it has asked for more time on the construction permit. Environmental Quality granted the first extension in December 2019 for 18 months.

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