North Dakota OKs refinery construction near national park

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — North Dakota's Health Department has issued a permit allowing construction of an oil refinery about 3 miles (5 kilometers) from Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

State Air Quality Director Terry O'Clair says officials conducted a 1½-year review and determined the refinery won't negatively impact the park.

Davis Refinery developer Meridian Energy Group says the decision "validates" work the company has done ensuring it will be "the cleanest refinery on the planet."

Several national and regional conservation groups doubt that and have actively opposed the project. Badlands Conservation Alliance Executive Director Jan Swenson calls it "a pretty sad day for the state of North Dakota."

The project still needs state water and wastewater permits, and will need to prove once it's built that it meets air quality standards.