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Letter: Why site thirsty refinery in parched corner of North Dakota?

Refineries need a lot of water. Initially, Meridian Energy Group Inc. said the proposed Davis Refinery could use "up to 100 gallons" of water per minute.

The application submitted to the North Dakota Water Commission for the water appropriation permit is 400 gallons of water per minute.

The proposed refinery is sited to be built three miles from North Dakota's only national park, a park known for its iconic Badlands formations.

The Lakota people were the first to call this type of formation the Badlands—"mako sica" or "land bad"—because of extreme temperatures, lack of water, minimal vegetation and rugged terrain. Those of us who grew up in this area remember how our parents and grandparents used water cautiously because it was scarce.

Agencies responsible for the proposed Davis Refinery's permits need to consider the long-term impacts to the environment, and to the health and livelihoods of people in nearby towns.

As the Water Commission crafts a recommended decision, commissioners must not forget that their decisions should be made in the public's best interest.

Meridian wants to use salty water from the Dakota formation, the same formation often used for injection wells for toxic water from oil production. At a public-information hearing in February, the Water Commission wasn't able to say how much water was in the formation, how long it takes to replenish that formation or what trends in quantity and quality have occurred since the formation has been used for oil development.

When wells run dry, we know the value of water. Residents of oil extraction areas are the ones who'll be here when the "landscape is quiet again."

Linda Weiss

Belfield, N.D.