Monday, March 30, 2009

2 weeks and counting

April 1st, 2009
2 weeks and counting
The public portion of the “contested” hearing will be held at the Elk Point Gymnasium starting on the 15th of April, and concluding the next day. I cannot stress how important this meeting will be because what we have to say is going to greatly influence the decision that will be made by the Board of Minerals and Environment when the contested hearing begins in Pierre the middle of May.
Keeping a positive attitude is paramount on the outcome of this hearing. That old saying that the squeaky wheel gets the grease is true. Look at what happened with the zoning ordinance 2 years ago. Those of us that were involved with that got it referred to a special election. We did it by hard work and determination. We refused to think it was an exercise in futility. The county commissioners didn’t believe we had the resolve to get the required number of signatures on the petition let alone get it voted down if we did. They were wrong on both counts. We got twice the number of signatures and it was voted down by a 3 to 1 margin. It can happen again. This time we only have to convince the 5 members on the Board of Minerals. You just have to believe. I believe, do you? Remember the little engine that could?
Sitting home waiting for the outcome is not an option. We need to have an overflow crowd at this hearing to show the board our resolve in this issue. I am asking each of you to please, please show up at one of the 2 meetings. I cannot stress how important it is that you show up and prove to the board that this is an issue that is not to be taken lightly. Our homes and our lives are at stake. This is not the time to sit back and say “I’m just one person and what I think or say won’t make a difference.” You have to make your position known to these people. They don’t have a clue why we are so upset about this, and unless you tell them, they still won’t know.
I know you don’t want to be a Monday morning quarterback and say “if” I had only gone to the meeting things might be different. If you do that it will be too late. Done is done and there are no do-over’s. I am making a passioned plea that everyone who reads this article makes a concerted effort to get to this meeting. Again, here are 2 items that you can write or talk about concerning Hyperion’s application for the air permit.
One cannot determine what the pollution levels are going to be unless one can test the product. “Sweet crude” does not have the same properties as tar sands, especially in the content of the particulate matter specifically pertaining to sulfur. So how can the board render a decision for the permit when they don’t know what the product is? This is just goofy. (I wanted to say asinine!)
I would stress the importance of looking out for pollution that will affect the health and well being of the people in over a 100 mile radius of the refinery because no matter what they say, pollution will drift with the wind. Do you know why the stacks are going to be 350’ tall? They need to get the emissions up into the wind current to allow it to disperse over a wider area. This will effectively reduce the concentration of the pollutants. Hyperion is literally pulling the wool over our eyes. The population of the area within 100 miles of the refinery that includes Sioux Falls, Sioux City and Omaha is over 500,000 people.
This is not a power station, this is a power station AND a refinery. That is a double whammy and the board of minerals needs to be made aware of this. One cannot express the importance of how this decision will affect the people in these areas, and it is the board that will be responsible to us. Not to the governor.
The Clean Air Act established two types of national air quality standards. Primary standards set limits to protect public health, including the health of “sensitive” populations such as asthmatics, children, and the elderly. Secondary standards set limits to protect public welfare, including protection against decreased visibility, damage to animals, crops, vegetation, and buildings. In my mind, this is not negotiable. If they don’t meet these limits, then it is a no brainer and the minerals board has to deny the permit. It is unconscionable on the part of the governor and the state of South Dakota to grant this permit to Hyperion. We absolutely cannot allow this to happen. If you can’t make it to the public hearing at least write a letter to them and have it entered in the record.


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