September 18, 2009

EPA explains final EIS for Fort Berthold refinery project

EPA explains final EIS for Fort Berthold refinery project
Editor’s note: This is the first of a three-part series looking at the building of a refinery on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation northwest of Makoti. The proposed refinery has been in the works for several years and became a step closer to reality on Sept. 9 when EPA tentatively announced the issuance of a permit for wastewater. Proponents say the refinery will create jobs and help the reservation economy and opponents are concerned about air and water quality issues.

By MARVIN BAKER
EDITOR
Recognizing a slight potential for health risks and a somewhat greater environmental risk, the Environmental Protection Agency is willing to issue the Three Affiliated Tribes a water discharge permit for a proposed refinery on the east edge of the Fort Berthold Reservation near Makoti.
It is likely the refinery will become a step closer to reality if no other comments are received against environmental impact statement from the public in the next month as the comment phase wraps up. EPA personnel were quick to point out during a public meeting held in New Town Sept. 9, that they are willing to issue a permit, but must wait until the comment period passes.
In addition, the preferred alternative is to not take the land into trust because of the potential of increased liability.
But thus far it looks favorable, according to Steve Wharton, an EPA representative from Denver who spoke Sept. 9 in New Town. He said this has been a challenging project; one with special considerations, but it is moving forward.
 


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