Devils Lake group wants public vote on refinery

Staff Writer
Devils Lake Journal

DEVILS LAKE, N.D. (AP) — A citizens group in Devils Lake is pushing for a public vote on a $200 million oil refinery proposed for the city's industrial park.

The city should have gathered input from residents before signing a letter of support for the project in October, Mary Lundy, spokeswoman for the Devils Lake Oil Refinery Citizens, told The Bismarck Tribune.

City officials promised to get public comments last year when a different refinery project was talked about, she said. That project never materialized.

"We just want them to fulfill their obligation to represent the community correctly," Lundy said. "It's not OK to tell the citizens one thing and then do something else."

Canada-based Eagles Ledge Energy wants to build a $200 million refinery that would process 20,000 barrels of oil daily.

Mayor Dick Johnson said the letter of support for the project falls far short of any commitment on the city's part and only signifies a willingness to look into the project. The city scheduled a public meeting Monday to unveil plans for the American Dakota Refinery.

"There are a lot of questions that have to be answered," he said, including whether the refinery would pose a pollution hazard to the lake for which the city is named.

North Dakota has gone from being the ninth-biggest oil producer among U.S. states in 2006 to the second-biggest, behind only Texas, thanks to energy companies cracking the rich Bakken and Three Forks formations in the western part of the state.

The only refinery operating in North Dakota is the Tesoro Corp. facility at Mandan, but construction is underway on refineries at Dickinson and on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation.