Sunday, November 30, 2008

You've got to be kidding me part II

Dec 3rd, 2008
You’ve got to be kidding me (Part II)
You know, when I was a kid my mother always told me that if you can’t say something nice about a person, keep your mouth shut. If I did that about Hyperion, DENR and the Governor, I wouldn’t have anything to write about.
I am still amazed at what is happening with the Clean Air Permit. If you read the papers, everyone that is against Hyperion is a heretic. I wonder how long we are going to have to speak out about this issue before people decide what we are talking about has validity. This refinery is not good for this area.
Let’s take economic development and the Clean Air Permit. I wonder if people who live in Sioux City and the surrounding area realize that if this refinery happens, no other industries can be built within 50 miles of the refinery because they will exceed the allowable limits of polluted air. If you read the clean air permit draft, Hyperion purposely left the Sioux City area out of the equation. I believe they did this because if they would have left Sioux City in the permit, the business leaders would have realized that this would be the killing blow for industrial development for the Sioux City complex. Let me expand on this.
If the State of South Dakota approves the Hyperion application, it will show in the permit that the refinery will put the polluted air at the borderline for unsafe conditions. In other words, the air will be filled with the maximum amount allowable under the Clean Air Act and the National Ambient Air Quality standards. In order for other industries to come into the area, they must meet the air quality standards, and they won’t be able to do that because Hyperion is sucking us dry.
Now here comes an associated industry in the oil business and wants to build a factory either near the refinery or in the 50 mile radius of the refinery. Sorry Charlie, you must be pollution free or you can’t build here. Now do you suppose somebody will cry foul? Does Hyperion care? I think they would because it will cost them lost revenue. So Hyperion appeals to the state and DENR to waive the limits on the associated industries to allow them to come into the area. Talk about a domino effect. This again is a disaster waiting to happen. What has happened to the economic development Hyperion promised when they got their permit? This area would become a cesspool of putrid air is what would happen. I don’t think the state is thinking out this process. It is too late to lock the gate when the cows are already out of the pen. Is this making sense? I have a habit of playing devils advocate in situations like this and what I see happening is something that scares me. I keep saying be careful what you ask for, you might get it.
I don’t know if any of you have taken the time to read any of the letters that are posted on the DENR website, but please take some time to read them, there is a wealth of information up there. One of the letters I would like to comment on is from Dr. Mary Slattery. Dr. Slattery is a retired cardiologist from Elk Point. One of the interesting points that she makes in her letter is that at the beginning of the process when Hyperion was obtaining options on the land, Governor Rounds was knowledgeable about the refinery but kept quiet. In effect, he was complicit with Hyperion to allow them to obtain this ground. By keeping this secret, it prevented competitors from raising the price of the land should anyone else want to get in on the action. According to Dr. Slattery’s letter, the Governor never explained his actions for keeping this quiet which allowed Hyperion to obtain these options at a price that was not competitive. I think this is a plausible option because the Governor has been deeply involved with this for a long time. Is what he did illegal? I doubt it because he can always use the excuse that he is doing what he is paid to do, bring industry to the state of South Dakota. After all, he travels all over the world in an attempt to get investors in the state. I would guess that the only ones to complain about that are the ones that signed options. If there had been competitive bidding, they would have gotten more money.
Does anyone else get the feeling that we have been lied to about this project since the very beginning? There are too many things going on for it to be left to chance. As long as the price of oil is down I don’t think we have anything to worry about. Just getting the air permit doesn’t mean it’s a done deal. They still have to find the people willing to invest in long term. Which reminds me, with Henry Waxman being nominated as chairman of House Energy and Commerce, Hyperion is going to have a hard time convincing anyone in Congress that they will build a “Green” refinery.


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