MAKOTI - The Three Affiliated Tribes received the final permit approval on Friday for its project to build a refinery on the Fort Berthold Reservation.
The refinery will be built west of Makoti near N.D. Highway 23.
With the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's decision to approve the water discharge permit Friday, Tex Hall, chairman of the Three Affiliated Tribes, said they will be finally be able to move forward to build the Thunder Butte Refinery.
"It is indeed historic, since this is the first refinery built in the lower 48 states in 41 years. The Mandan, Hidatsa and Arikara Nation has waited nine long years for this. We never gave up, although we experienced a few bumps along the way. The switch from Canadian synthetic crude feedstock to Bakken formation crude oil slowed our progress for awhile," Hall said.
"It only makes sense to have a refinery here. We are sitting right on top of the Bakken Formation and importing oil and fuel into the state. Thunder Butte can now refine and make available these products at a much lower rate. The refinery will also maximize the economic interests of Indian mineral owners as well as the tribes," Hall said.
He said their next step for the refinery includes getting a pipeline that will pipe the oil and gas from the west side of the Missouri River to the east side and then to the refinery. The pipeline is a large project that will create even more jobs along with the refinery, Hall said.
"I commend our refinery staff for their willingness to keep going under sometimes difficult circumstances and their diligence and hard work," Hall added.
When completed, the Thunder Butte Refinery will refine Bakken crude for use on the reservation, in North Dakota and throughout the United States, and decrease the nation's need for foreign oil, Hall said.