Developers of a $300-million diesel refinery broke ground in Dickinson, N.D., recently, proving that – at least in one state — controversies surrounding the environmental effects of hydraulic fracturing and horizontal drilling are having less effect than the economic growth flowing from abundant reserves of oil and natural gas.

The 20-month project is actually proof of the add-on effects of new oil-and-gas exploration: this new refinery will produce fuel for the many trucks, trains, and other vehicles needed to support North Dakota’s expanding energy industry.

Reportedly, it will be the first new refinery to be built in the U.S. since 1976. It will supply a rising demand for fuel that results from the burgeoning exploration industry sited around the Bakken Shale formation — one of several domestic shale formations that are drawing hundreds of billions of dollars in new investment, to build the pipeline transport, storage, and processing capacity needed to manage the volumes of natural gas newly available from domestic sources.

In the Bakken region, supporting that industry reportedly requires as much as 53,000 barrels of diesel fuel every day, which is far more than existing domestic diesel refining capacity can support.

The Dakota Prairie Refinery is an investment by MDU Resources Group Inc. and Calumet Specialty Products Partners L.P.  The developers expect the project will employ 400 to 500 workers when construction peaks, and 100 workers when the refinery is in operation.

"With this refinery we get to use the oil we have in North Dakota," according to Governor Jack Dalrymple, who was on-site for the groundbreaking ceremony.