Sunday, December 13, 2009

Will wonders never cease?

December 16th, 2009
Well, will wonders never cease?
A class of students at USD studied the ramifications of the Hyperion Energy Center and according to an article by David Lias of the Vermillion Plain Talk; ‘The proposed Hyperion oil refinery proposed to be constructed not far from Vermillion in Union County is not a sustainable project. These findings were presented to the Vermillion Chamber of Commerce last Monday’. (Isn’t it amazing what a little education can do for a person? We’ve known this for 3 years, but did anyone listen to us? Nope. )
Again, quoting from the Plain Talk article, ‘the students noted that the Hyperion project would use 9 to 12 million gallons of water a day in the refining process. They also cited information credited to Derrick Iles, state geologist for the South Dakota Department of Natural Resources, who has stated that the biggest concern is not the consumption of groundwater but possible pollution’.( Isn’t it great to be smarter than a 5th grader? I only hope that what these kids told the chamber strikes home and they listen to what these students had to say. After all, this was a semester’s worth of work here.)
(Here is another good quote from this class.) ‘The students also concluded that pollution from the refinery would likely have detrimental effects on nearby land because of contamination.’(Wouldn’t it have been great if they could have presented this information to the Board of Minerals a few months ago? )
The article continues: ‘The university students told the city council that the proposed Hyperion project has the potential to change the air quality of the immediate area as well as distant areas within the wind patterns surrounding Union County. It is estimated that the refinery will emit 19.6 million tons of pollutants annually. The USD students noted in their presentation that some individuals, including Gov. Mike Rounds, argue the emissions from this plant will only be 32 percent of what is currently emitted from Sioux Falls.’(What does the governor know? He only repeats what Hyperion tells him.)
Here is what I find amazing about this whole Hyperion project. If these kids can come to the conclusion that this in not sustainable, why the heck couldn’t the planning and zoning commissioners and the Union County Commissioners reach the same conclusion? I’ll tell you why, they didn’t care or they were in the hip pocket of Hyperion. You will never convince me that they didn’t know this was wrong but only saw dollar signs. They saw this as an opportunity to have this be their legacy for the county. ‘Hey, look at me; I was responsible for this garbage.’ I would be willing to bet my paycheck that they spent less than 5 minutes researching this before they decided which way they were going. In fact I would be willing to bet they never asked any questions at all. Can anyone remember them discussing this in any OPEN meeting? We did all the research for them. We testified for over 5 hours to the planning and zoning back in January last year and within the time it took to say thank you, they made a motion and passed the application on to the commissioners. The commissioners listened to another 5 or 6 hours of testimony by people of this county and then gave their blessing to Hyperion. I hate to keep rehashing old news, but these kids are making our elected and appointed leaders look really stupid. I know I’m not making any friends at the court house, but sometimes the truth hurts. That’s politics I guess. We pay our taxes, and they get the heat. You can never satisfy all of the people all of the time, but this time they were dead wrong. That’s enough ranting and raving I guess. Some of the commissioners call it whining.
Have any of you had the opportunity to read the letter to the editor that Deanna Langle wrote to the Leader Courier? It was a good one. It was simple and straight forward.
‘Your recent editorial about Hyperion dealt with trust and motives.
Save Union County is no faceless corporation from Texas. They are local residents with reasonable worries. You dismiss them, implying that Hyperion should be given the “benefit of the doubt”. I suggest extending that same generosity to neighbors who disagree with you.
It is important that those who support Hyperion not look through rose-colored glasses. It is a given that oil refineries are messy and noisy. They do cause air pollution, irrespective of what the developers say. And they alter quality of life. On the economic side, oil refineries require lots of workers, truck traffic and construction activity.
It’s useful to have spirited public discussion about such a massive proposal. It is not useful to dismiss the motives and desires of well-meaning residents who oppose the project. Hyperion has no track record in the refinery industry. They have already admitted their refinery will emit more CO2 per barrel than other oil refineries. Bottom line: Hyperion is mostly interested in Hyperion. Even if you disagree with your neighbors opposing Hyperion, understand that their interest is motivated by their desire to do what’s best for their home county.’
Now I ask you, why is it that this small pocket of people in the refinery coverage area seems to know and have known for some time that this is not good for us, can’t be figured out by everybody else? I know there are refineries all over the United States that are close to and in populated areas, but that doesn’t mean that we have to endure this. Until Load King closed last week, there doesn’t seem to be much of an unemployment problem in the Siouxland area. I don’t call 4% unemployment a catastrophe.
For someone like the President of the Elk Point City Council to say it is unfortunate that Load King is closing so bring on Hyperion, they can’t get here fast enough is completely irresponsible on her part.


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