Environmentalists Move the Goal Posts on North Dakota Refinery

Buck Hill is the highest observation point in Theodore Roosevelt National Park. Consultants for Meridian Energy Group estimate that a water vapor plume from the Davis Refinery may be visible from this point for about 15 daylight hours per year. Jack Dura / Bismarck Tribune

I think most of us are environmentalists. Which is to say that most of us want society, including business and industry, to be responsible stewards of the land and air.

But to many, including this humble observer, the term “environmentalist” seems pejorative. We don’t want to be associated with the term, because it in turn means being associated with political extremists who aren’t really out to protect the environment.

Case in point, the fight over the Davis Refinery which is in the process of being built by the Meridian Energy Group.

The proximity of the project to Theodore Roosevelt National Park has caused concern to some, and rightfully so. The park is a marvelous resource here in North Dakota and it should be protected. Indeed, it seems as though the folks at Meridian are very interested in protecting the park. When some expressed concerns that the refinery, which is miles away from the borders of the park, could spoil views from within the park the Meridian project managers did an experiment.

They flew an 11 foot kite 150 feet in the air at the site where the refinery would be constructed. They then climbed to the top of Buck Hill, the highest elevation viewpoint in the park, to see what was visible.

“The bright-red kite wasn’t visible, even with binoculars,” the Bismarck Tribune reported.

That’s an inconvenient truth for the resistance to the refinery organized by left-wing environmental groups. Their solution? Move the goal posts. Per their most recent gripes about the project, the issue isn’t so much that the refinery can be seen from the park but that it can’t be seen from the interstate on the way to the park:

[Former Democratic state lawmaker Connie] Triplett, who attended the meeting for the National Parks Conservation Association, said the refinery will be visible from the interstate to tourists heading to Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

“For a lot of people, their only experience of being in North Dakota may be getting to Theodore Roosevelt National Park along the interstate,” she said. “The notion that you can hide a refinery behind a row of trees seems a little far-fetched to me.”

Good grief.

On a related note, does anyone put this much concern into views spoiled by the endless miles of wind farms which have been built in North Dakota to capture massive federal subsidies? At night those wind farms light up like some sort of an alien invasion.

But I guess that’s…different or something?

Anyway, this is why reasonable people have problems taking these professional environmental activists seriously. Because it seems their agenda isn’t so much about protecting the environment as finding any possible political or legal excuse to obstruct progress on oil, gas, and coal development.

Rob Port is the editor of SayAnythingBlog.com, a columnist for the Forum News Service, and host of the Plain Talk Podcast which you can subscribe to by clicking here.

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