Friday, May 23, 2008

"You are always on my mind"

March 26th, 2008

Chapter 4. “You Are Always on my Mind.” (Willie Nelson)

Well, if you read my article last week, you would have seen that I hit the nail dead on the head with my prediction of what Hyperion is really doing, only it was the wrong nail. Topeka, Kansas announced Wednesday (March 19th) that its deal with Hyperion Resources in Dallas for a $10 Billion refinery fell through. I guess Hyperion is looking at other sites after all. The deal fell through because Hyperion had tied a 1000 megawatt coal burning power plant into the deal, and the commissioners, the legislature, and the governor turned them down. Duh! It would have provided 1800 jobs to the economically depressed area. Where had I heard this before? Now I am going to have to rethink this idea that I have about Hyperion’s quest. Anybody got any ideas. The article did say that one of the reasons they turned it down was that South Dakota has been the #1 choice since June of 2007 anyway. I wonder how we can get Kansas to change its mind.
I’ve written this weeks article many times and it just doesn’t come out right. I’ve written about all the bad things about oil refineries and the ugly pollution effects of refineries. It is so complicated that it turns into a dull textbook, and who wants to read an article in the newspaper that would put you to sleep. That’s what textbooks do to me anyway. What I really want to do is just write about how this proposed refinery is starting to affect our community and what it is doing to families, friends and neighbors. One has to ask of themselves, is it really worth all this strife?
Look back and think about what has happened to this area in just one year. Let me say that again. Look what has happened to this community in just one year. I don’t know how anyone feels about this, but the people in the affected area of Brule and Spink townships are bearing a terrible burden. Their lives are being torn apart by this proposed refinery. Can this refinery and its promises of jobs be more important than the lives of people in this area? Are we so in need of jobs that we are willing to tear these communities apart? It isn’t bringing 1800 jobs to Elk Point. It might bring 1800 jobs to this area. When you split that among 10 communities over 1000 square miles, you are talking about an average of 18 jobs per community. Are 18 jobs worth all the grief that this is causing? By the time all the permits are submitted and approved, it will be 2012 at the earliest before construction starts. I read in one article on the internet that this part of South Dakota is “Economically Depressed.” That is why Hyperion picked this place. Here is a bit of trivia for you. Did you know that when children from the Midwest apply for scholarships for universities back east we fall into a special category for those who are socially deprived of the arts?
I once asked someone why they thought Hyperion chose South Dakota. She told me because South Dakota has cheap land, lots of water, is away from natural disasters and that the people are stupid. We in South Dakota have no idea how the corporate mind works, and that emotional ties are the last thing companies like Hyperion are concerned about.
The people that are being hurt by this “proposed refinery” are those who stand to profit the least. I’m talking about acreage owners. These are people whose love of life, the land and the environment mean more than money. They see these small acreages as an opportunity to live comfortably, live in peace and quiet and grow old gracefully. Now, their properties are going to be worth next to nothing. Their lives are in total chaos. Whoever said that property values would go up is talking through their hat. Try to get a real estate agent to list an acreage for sale. The one thing that really bothers me is that it is liable to cause people to just get up and walk away. They can’t afford to move and if they could, where would they move to? They came here for a reason. Just look around you and you will see why.
Look at people who used to be friends and neighbors. Some won’t and don’t talk to each other anymore. People that are for this but do not live in this area are deceiving themselves when they say it doesn’t affect them. Nothing could be further from the truth. It affects all of us one way or another. We aren’t fooling anyone when we say something like that. That is pure folly. A year ago, I couldn’t spell oil refinery, now it is on everyone’s lips and it enters into your daily conversation. And for what? The only people that are going to profit from this live in Texas. I hate to be the bearer of sad tidings, but our way of life will change forever if this refinery comes into Union County. Change for the worse, not the better. I said in the first article that I wrote that this column would be biased. Now maybe you can see why. This is a bitter pill to swallow, and it doesn’t have to happen.
It is unfortunate that everyone in this area doesn’t have an opportunity to express their opinion at the ballot box. I had a person come up to me last week and tell me how lucky I was to live in Union County. She must have known I was confused by the puzzled expression on my face. She said “you get to vote, I don’t.” how disheartening for her that she has to live with this and has no say.
Even if you are for this project, I urge you to step back and ask yourselves – “is this the legacy I want to leave for my children and my children’s children.” Once the spade goes in the ground, it will be changed forever.

Till next week
vaya Con Dios ! (Go with God)



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