Sunday, November 23, 2008

You've got to be kidding me

November 26th, 2008
You’ve got to be kidding me!
Hyperion lawyers met on November 20th in Pierre with the Board of Minerals and Water to plead their case for getting the Hyperion application approved as soon as possible. Lawyers for Hyperion said that a delay of six months will cost Hyperion almost $500 million and delay the state getting $25 million in revenue. Nothing like trying to put a little pressure on someone is there? I think these lawyers should have read the DENR website before they went to the meeting to see what EPA had to say about the Hyperion application. They might not have been so anxious to get this process going.
I apologize if this makes for dull reading, but please muddle through this and you will see what is going on here. This is going to get complicated, but I think it is necessary to show the seriousness of what is happening. I have been saying for months that this is never going to happen. There are many of us that have been saying time and again that Hyperion does not have the skills, knowledge or the expertise to build this refinery. After you read the comments in the rest of this article you might have to agree with me. If Hyperion can’t get their application straight and DENR goes along with it, how in God’s name is Hyperion going to be able to build a refinery and then have someone like DENR monitor their operation to make sure they are not stinking the place up. Many of us have been saying for months that this application cannot be approved without Hyperion submitting an Environmental Impact (EIS) statement. After looking at the response from EPA I can understand why. How are they going to file an EIS when they can’t even get the application right? There has to be an element of trust in here somewhere, but all I see is growing distrust.
The State of South Dakota DENR posted numerous letters and emails that were received on November 14th on their website November 20th. You can read the response from EPA in its entirety by following these directions. Go to( on Hyperion Energy Center Environmental Permits).( Click on Hyperion Air Quality Permit).( Scroll down to comments on Air Draft Permit). (Click on 20 comments received). Scroll down about 8 letters and the EPA response will be there. I read all these emails and letters as they are posted, and when I read the response to DENR on the Hyperion application I almost fell off my chair. The EPA regional office in Denver sent a 24 page response to DENR on the 14th of November that when you read it, it will just about blow your socks off. It is 24 pages of rebuttal on just about every portion of the Hyperion application. The letter really makes DENR and Hyperion look stupid and totally inept. I am going to take you through this article page by page and first show the Hyperion/DENR action then the EPA response. If ever there was reason to be happy, reading this letter is like getting Christmas early. The second paragraph of the very first page sets the tone of the rest of the letter. It says that the permit format is confusing to review and understand, and suggests that DENR revise the format so that people can understand it. I wanted to stand up and holler. I had presumed that this application was going to be a slam dunk and that the EPA would merely rubberstamp the process. Boy was I about to be enlightened. Let me give you just a few examples.
In the last paragraph of the first page the EPA recognizes that refinery crude slate can vary greatly depending on the operation and product demand, the EPA could not find any discussion of the characteristics and requested that this be better defined. The EPA requested that at a minimum this include the sulfur content, hydrogen/carbon ratio and metals in the crude.
On page 2, the DENR application talks about monitoring requirements being on what is called a 365- day rolling average. EPA’s response is that this is the least stringent figure they have seen and therefore is unacceptable to the EPA.
On page 4, EPA notes that the economic impact analysis for refinery fuel gas desulfurization as well as the other emission control equipment in Appendix D, is inadequate, and they are not making any comments on the BACT determinations until they have had the opportunity to review the cost effectiveness and cost analysis.
EPA is continually saying throughout the article that DENR need to require compliance. DENR needs to establish limits. EPA is unable to make a determination. EPA disagrees; DENR needs to revise conditions. EPA strongly recommends. EPA strongly disagrees with DENR’s decision.
On page 17, EPA states that there is no mention of where the costs are derived from. Therefore, the costs have not been documented. Generally, cost information is provided from equipment vendors. If one were to look back at the original application that Hyperion made to the county planning and zoning and the county commissioners, every time there was a blank space for naming equipment and/or a vendor it was filled in TBD (to be determined).
On page 18, under Soils and Vegetation , the EPA states that their statement is subjective without supporting information. The next paragraph states that DENR adopted this portion stating that “The owner or operator need not provide an analysis of the impact on vegetation having no significant commercial or recreational value.” However the proposed facility will be approximately 10 miles from Ponca State Park in Nebraska, Oak Grove (Union Grove) State park in South Dakota and Big Sioux County Parks in Iowa which should be within the envelope of the soil and vegetation analysis and that the missing information needs to be included in the record for this proposed PSD permit.
The Coupe de Gras is the following sentence.
The proposed permit has numerous provisions that should be revised. This type of language is not appropriate for permits as this language is a form of “director’s discretion” that would allow the State to unilaterally change permit provisions without benefit of EPA review or public comment. We recommend that the DENR remove these from the permit.
Folks, Hyperion is trying to push through something that is inherently bad for our health and from some strange reason DENR has become a willing partner to this.
I absolutely do not understand how in good conscious DENR could let this happen. Somebody needs to be held accountable because it is their duty to protect the citizens of South Dakota from this very thing happening. It is their duty to be a watchdog and prevent anything like this from happening, but look what they are doing. They strongly advocate that this Hyperion issue is good for us and for the people of this region. This is an abborition that’s what it is.
This is what I think is happening. Hyperion puts together a jumble of documents. They don’t really know just how technical they have to be about this process so they team with the state DENR and submit a document that is totally screwed up. EPA looks at the document; throws up, then sends a 24 page response back to DENR telling them what they must do if they expect the application to pass the scrutiny of the EPA.
Now Hyperion knows the boundaries of the playing field and corrects the mistakes and they are home free. This process does not relieve the DENR from complicity. They have not done their job.
Governor Mike Rounds said long ago when it was questioned as to whether or not DENR had the skills or expertise to look at this document and the governor said that he had full confidence in the ability of DENR to thoroughly examine this document and make a just and fair decision. A Just and fair decision for whom?
This EPA response gives full justification that Save Union County, Citizens Opposed to Oil Production and the Sierra Club that we were correct and it is time for the Governor to sit up and listen to what we are talking about. If the Governor was sincere about looking out for the welfare of the citizens of this state, this would have never happened. Since this whole thing started we have been saying time and time again that this process cannot continue without an EIS. That document is more important now than ever before and I firmly believe it is the responsibility of the DENR to finally insist that Hyperion pay for an independent third party to conduct an Environmental Impact Statement


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