Friday, October 24, 2008

When push comes to shove

October 8th, 2008
When Push comes to Shove

This might seem like a strange title for this week’s article, but I always get defensive when I get backed into a corner. I get even more defensive when I get the distinct feeling that I’m right and everyone else is wrong. This week is one of those weeks.
There was an article in the Argus Leader about 10 days ago that I thought would garner a lot of attention, but I heard practically nothing. That bothers me. The title of the article, which was on the front page by the way, was “Refinery’s effect on air quality debated.” In essence what it was saying is that Hyperion’s refinery will take up such a big percentage of the “GOOD” air in the Union County area that there won’t be any left for the follow on industries, or for any other industry for that matter. Now what is wrong with that statement?
For one thing, it meant to me that the air will be polluted to the maximum allowable by the EPA (our friend in government). This is about the most asinine thing I’ve ever seen in my life, and for the life of me I do not understand how or why this is being allowed to happen. This issue isn’t about fueling the economy; it is pure and simple greed. You’ll never convince me otherwise. Of all the places in the United States and Canada this is the one place where the land, water, and employment are the cheapest, otherwise why wouldn’t Hyperion just let the pipeline that is going to Port Arthur handle it. You could save $10 Billion dollars. They already have a refinery and are expanding to handle 400,000 bbl a day. Don’t give me the private enterprise theory crap either. (the word “stuff” used to be my favorite word, but I think ”crap” is getting ready to take its place)
The air quality in Union County and therefore the entire tri-state area is so pristine that it is allowing Hyperion come in and pollutes the air and it still will be below the maximum allowable by the EPA. Now you know that where there is smoke there is fire. Here is the fire. When the ancillary industries start coming into the area to manufacture the byproduct of the sludge left from the refining of the tar sands, there isn’t enough clean air left. Hyperion has used their allotment plus anything else.
Let me quote Kyrik Rombough, the state DENR engineering director. He is explaining what incremental pollution is. Rombough linked increments to someone cooking Thanksgiving dinner. People in the kitchen would smell the turkey roasting first, while the smell would take longer to reach people in other rooms. Pollutants would be concentrated at the Hyperion site but would lessen farther from the refinery. There it is in a nutshell folks. Those of us close to the refinery are going to get sick first but eventually everyone will be succumbed to the pollution. Isn’t that just the most comforting statement you’ve ever heard? Talk about wanting to be a NIMBY! This refinery is great for the state of South Dakota because only the health of the people surrounding the refinery is going to be affected. By the time it reaches everyone else, it will be so diluted that it won’t make a difference. Governor Rounds was right. Smelling the exhaust from the automobiles in Sioux Falls will be less than what you will have 5 miles from the refinery. Jeez are we ever stoopid. Is this one of those situations where we are to sacrifice for the common good? That’s a load of crap. There is a statement in the bible by Jesus that there is no greater love than for a man to lay down his life to save another. Is this a case of “Tough love?” Maybe it is just me being a whole lot bitter. Has everyone seen the Verizon commercial about the “dead zone?” let’s rename the refinery section and a 10 mile radius of the refinery the dead zone.
When the Argus interviewed business leaders in the area around Elk Point, the President of the Elk Point city council and a member of the Elk Point Economic Development Corp Joyce Bortcheller said “I don’t think it’s an issue.” Although if you remember before the election, Joyce was interviewed on TV and she said then – “if I lived closer to the refinery, I would probably be opposed to it.” Talk about being a NIMBY. I think she is a charter member. If the truth were know, if you were to interview the residents of Dakota Dunes, North Sioux City, and McCook Lake you would get the same answer.
Let me end this article on a good note. There was a large response from the public on the closing date for the public comments for the Clean Air Permit. The state DENR has extended the deadline to the 14th of November. Keep up the good work folks, maybe the pen is mightier than the sword.


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