Sunday, September 28, 2008

sink or swim?

October 1st, 2008
Sink or swim?
This Hyperion issue is approaching what I call “critical mass.” October 13th is the drop dead date for sending comments to DENR concerning the clean air permit. That is less than 2 weeks away. I was on the DENR website Friday night and there are only about 30 new comments posted on the website. There will probably be more by the time this article is printed. I am concerned about the letters that have been sent for comment. Not for content, but quantity. DENR is not going to consider 40-50 letters questioning Hyperion’s action as a major influence. They will think again if there are hundreds of letters. This one permit is not the end, but the beginning of a long struggle.
I have been hearing a lot of people talking that Hyperion must be losing interest in the refinery because they aren’t in the paper. They don’t have the money and the big companies aren’t interested. Nothing could be further from the truth. I mentioned last week about the water and power issue and “secret” meetings with various state and federal agencies. We are sitting on our laurels and they are working behind the scenes talking and making deals to get this process done. Hyperion spent over $125,000 just on the primary election for advertising and expenses. There is no doubt in my mind that they can outspend us 10-1 to keep us from winning this lawsuit. The thing we have that is greater than Hyperion is determination and resolve.
Clay Rural Water had their board meeting last Thursday and voted not to do anything until they get more information. They first voted on a motion to refuse to consider the request by Hyperion but it failed on a 5-2 vote. Then they voted to ask for more information but not be committed to making a decision. That passed 5-2. If CRWS doesn’t build the water facility, someone else will. It is as simple as that. Hyperion quoted in their letter to CRWS that they want to give local businesses the right of first refusal. I hate to say this, but we are not prepared to compete against big oil. There is no doubt in my mind that Hyperion doesn’t have the capability to build a refinery, but they can broker the deal for a large oil company to step in and get the job done. All Hyperion has to do is grease the wheel. Every permit they get increases the value when it comes time to sell it. Big companies are just sitting back letting Hyperion jump through the hoops, and when all the permits are in place, there will be a big auction at Hyperion and it will go to the highest bidder. Just keep in mind; they only have two more years to get this done. After that their options run out and the price of land will go through the roof.
With the events that have been going on the last couple of weeks, I have to ask this question. Do we really want to stop Hyperion from building a refinery, or are we just spitting in the wind? What is it going to take to get people behind this issue? There are people out there who don’t understand what we are doing and accuse us of complaining and whining. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard people ask me “why can’t you quit whining and just accept the fact there is going to be a refinery here?” Have you ever seen the cartoon of the frog being eaten by the big crane? The frog is in the mouth of the crane and the frog’s hands are around the crane’s neck. The caption is “giving up is not an option.” I firmly believe this will never happen, but at the same time I want to do everything possible to make sure my prophecy is fulfilled. I just cannot imagine waking up in the morning and seeing the pallor of smoke coming from the refinery. Life is too short, and I don’t need to have it shortened by some stupid refinery in my back yard. There it is that fateful acronym - NIMBY.
One of the things I stress when I talk to people about Hyperion and their strategy is that we must outthink them. More than likely, they have had this refinery in the works for many years. They have a timetable to work with, and we don’t. They know what they are going to do and when they are going to do it. All we can do is be prepared to counter what they do. We need to anticipate what their next move is and not be surprised when they do something different. If you remember any of my past articles, I stressed that to them this is a giant chess game. The end result is having a refinery operational in Union County. How they get there is our problem. People getting together having strategy sessions, not bitch sessions, but strategy sessions to talk about what Hyperion is doing and how to counter that seems to me to be a good idea. What do you folks think? Can we do this? Do you have the courage to do this? Can we do this effectively? Does anyone want to do this? Is this a lost cause?


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