Monday, June 15, 2009

Facts about an Environmental Impact Statement

May 29th, 2009
Facts about an EIS
With all the fuss that has been going on with Hyperion, I thought maybe I should refresh everyone’s memory and describe again what an Environmental Impact Study is and why those opposed to the refinery are demanding that Hyperion submit one.
First, the definition of what it is - - An environmental impact statement, in the United States, is a document that must be filed when the federal government takes a "major Federal action significantly affecting the quality of the human environment." The law requiring this is the National Environmental Policy Act.
The key words in that phrase are federal government and federal action. The state of South Dakota and Hyperion are saying that this is not a federal project and therefore there is no federal action taking place so they don’t need to file an impact study. If there are federal monies involved in this then the government can step in. such as using stimulus money for some of the cost that Hyperion would have to bear. What I don’t understand about this is that Hyperion was in Washington D.C. asking our Senators and Congresswoman to aid them in obtaining a $10 Billion dollar loan to build this. Maybe the loan money will come after the air permit is approved. But it seems to me that the feds will have a say in the project if it happens. What do I know? Anyway, back to the definition. What an impact statement is is an assessment of the possible impact-positive or negative-that a proposed project may have on the natural environment. What is does is to make a report which includes a detailed description of a proposed development project with emphasis on the existing environment setting, viewed from both a local and regional perspective, and a discussion of the probable impact of the project on the environment during all phases. It certainly makes sense to me why we are asking the Hyperion folks to make such a report. If they are going to be “Transparent” and open about this I would think it wouldn’t be a problem. Here is the hitch. An EIS might just reveal problems with putting a refinery here and therefore the DENR would deny their permit. So don’t submit one. Convince the state that one isn’t necessary and that doing a state study would suffice. In my opinion, that is exactly what they did.
The word environment in this case is an all encompassing word. It includes the human issue as well as air, water and land. What will the refinery do to the human population that will exist by this refinery? How will it affect their lives both monetarily and physically? For one thing, it does not address the problems dealing with infrastructure. Again and again we have told anyone in the state who will listen, that we cannot afford what it will cost to improve infrastructure.
Let’s take housing as an example. To make accommodations for the families that will be employed here (1800+) we will need to build enough housing for them to live in. now we just can’t say Mr. Jones you’re going to live in Elk Point. Mr. Smith, you’re going to live in Vermillion. The people that move here are going to make the choice where they want to live. Now let’s give lead time to building the house. What would you say is the average time start to finish for a house? Let’s use 9 months as an average, just for the sake of argument. It takes more than a general contractor to build a house. There is water, electrical, sheetrock, carpenters; landscaping, engineering blueprints just to name a few. How many companies are there in this area that can take on building 700 units at one time in all the communities in a 100 mile radius of the refinery? Don’t forget these builders are also building for just the people already living here that want new homes, or the contractor is building a spec home etc. it will be an absolute nightmare. How many of these 1800+ employees will be willing to wait 2 to 3 years for a home that fits their needs? Bear in mind, that these construction workers will be doing this at the same time Hyperion is doing the refinery. The job market is really getting scarce now. Who is going to do what? Where are they going to work? Decisions, decisions, decisions. The best example I can give of this is Dakota Dunes. How long did it take for that to get up and running? It’s been over 20 years and they are still building down there. The population is just now getting to 2800 people. Give me a break folks!
I’m getting off the track here, back to the EIS. The main reason for the EIS is to show just exactly how this will affect the balance of man against nature and man against himself. Will construction upset the apple cart? Will they be able to live in harmony without harming each other? Is this a major change or a minor change to the environment? And the big question, IS THIS GOING TO BE HARMFUL TO THE PEOPLE IN THE SURROUNDING AREA? Will the construction of the refinery change the area for the good or for the bad? Part of an EIS concerns dollar$. Can this area support a refinery and all its ancillary projects? I would have to say no. it will take longer to build the infrastructure than to build a refinery. And then what have we got?


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