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.

when will it end

March 25th, 2009
When will It End?
I had this week’s article all planned and was ready to go to print when the damndest thing happened. KSFY in Sioux Falls didn’t have a lot of news to talk about this week, so Brian Allen slips on his coat and trots down to Elk Point to see what is happening with the Hyperion project. Who does he run into but Mayor Isabelle Trobaugh. (I wanted to say Queen, but that wouldn’t be respectful of her position)
He asked her a couple of questions and got a couple of standard pr answers. Brian asked her if Hyperion was still planning on coming to elk point. Mayor Trobaugh raised her finger and said remember I said IF they were able to get the permits passed, and IF they financial backing, and - - - wait a minute I distinctly remember an interview with Isabelle over a year ago when a TV station from Sioux City asked her where the money was coming from, and she looked at him and smiled and said Mr. Huddleston told her in strictest confidence that he had the money to build this refinery. Now we are down to and if he can arrange financing.
Ok I’ll buy that for now, but then she committed the unpardonable sin. Oh, Oh, Oh woe is me. And make no mistake, she said it clearly. “Some of us in order to make this happen must make a sacrifice for the common good.” What!!! Now she was telling the nice folks who don’t live in Elk Point to make sacrifices, she had the barrel of that gun pointed straight at us. Vermillion doesn’t seem to be worried, Akron doesn’t seem to be worried, Alcester and Beresford don’t seem to be worried. But Elk Point. Come On. That is a different story. She has that ship pointed broadside to us and is letting go with a full salvo, “WE HAVE TO MAKE THE SACRIFICE FOR THE COMMON GOOD.” If I remember my geography lessons correctly, her jurisdiction stops at the city limits, so I guess I was mistaken, she was really telling the citizens of Elk Point to start making sacrifices. Grow gardens, quit smoking in the bars and stuff like that.
You know Mayor Trobaugh keeps talking about 1800 jobs for Elk point. I would like to quote Mr. Preston Phillips. He stopped in Canada in January and gave the old Hyperion speech at the 6th Annual Canadian Oil Sands Summit- January 2009. It was the same speech that he gave down here last fall to the chamber of Commerce in Sioux Falls. see what he has to say.
• Acquired necessary site options
• Announced Union County, South Dakota Site (June 2007)
• Filed for Rezoning of Land (December 2007)
• Filed PSD air permit application in South Dakota (December 2007)
• Land officially rezoned to Energy Center Planned Development (June 2008)
• PSD Air Permit issued (2nd Quarter 2009)
• All permits and permissions obtained (4th Quarter 2009)
• Begin Construction (2010)
• Full Operation (2014)
Notice the last four bullet points. The timeline has now moved from getting permits in 2008 to getting permits in 2009, and getting these permits approved. Who does he know? Then begin construction in 2010 not 2009 but guess what folks; we still go full operation in 2014. Now isn’t this just amazing. These guys are going to be able to put this together in 4 years now instead of 5. Ooh, I’m impressed.
􀁘 Construction of the HEC will require:
• An average of 4,500 employees
• A peak of over 8,000 employees for a 6 month period
• An average employment of 770 pipefitters
• A peak employment of 960 electricians
• A peak employment of 320 Welders
• 215,000 cubic yards of concrete
• 16,000 tons of rebar
• 400,000 tons of steel
• Almost 4 million linear feet of piping
• Nearly 800,000 valves (used to be 949,000)
• 39.8 million feet of wire and cable
Now we are averaging 4500 employees and at the peak of production it is now down from 10000 to only 8000. Do you remember when he and corky frank gave their spiel at the area chamber planning whatchadigi at Bev’s on the river? The head of the steam and pipefitters union said we didn’t have that many in the whole tri state area. So if Hyperion hires all the pipefitters and welders, what happens to the businesses they used to work at? Do they close? Can they afford to compete for salary? Or is the salary going to be the same? Any way you look at it, current businesses are going to take it in the shorts.
Now let’s talk the 1800 permanent jobs this will bring in. I know you guys are tired of hearing the same old story over and over again, but evidently this isn’t getting through to some people. Like the mayor in Elky Pointy…lets say just for the sake of argument that a person from Sioux City gets one of those jobs. Are they going to move to Elk Point? I don’t think so. Do you see where I’m coming from folks. This is all Hyperion babble. It isn’t going to happen. Anyway, Preston Phillips is on record speaking in North Sioux City that of these 1800 permanent jobs 80% will be imported because we don’t have the skills. That leaves 360 jobs for all the towns in a 100 mile radius to fight over. Folks, it just ain’t gonna happen and that’s all there is to it.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Sioux Falls questions Where's Hyperion

i think the name of this article should have been "button, button, who's got the button." OR, "Put another long on the fire."
i think this attached article by Brian Allen of KSFY TV in sioux falls just adds validity to a statement that i made when this whole thing started. It Ain't Gonna Happen. you would think that this place would be crawling with hyperion workers getting ready for construction, working with state and local governments for coordinating projects and getting cooperation from the county especially for workers etc. but that isn't the case. like mr. allen said in his article. they have disappeared off the face of the earth. my article next week will be more detailed and indepth, but for now, enjoy what KSFY has to particular attention to the response from Mayor Trobaugh. isn't she a pip? i like the part about the "if" especially the funding part. i think this is the first time anyone has mentioned that Hyperion needs funding. funding from whom?

By Brian Allen
Story Created: Mar 17, 2009 at 9:55 PM CDT
Story Updated: Mar 17, 2009 at 10:50 PM CDT
Nine months ago, voters in Union County approved the proposed construction of an oil refinery by a margin of 58-to-42 percent.
Watch The Video
The refinery would be owned and operated by Texas-based "Hyperion Oil".
The company the construction phase will cost 10 billion dollars.
Once it's complete, it would employ over 18-hundred people earning a wage of between 20 and 30 dollars an hour.
But since that vote last June, the company has remained largely silent about it's future plans, leading some to believe the project may never never happen at all. We investigate what's next for Hyperion Oil.
The proposed Hyperion refinery would be built on farmland north of Elk Point. A few miles from the farmstead of Dale and Christina Driver and their five kids. "Taking a stand again the proposed refinery is a risk of losing friends, family, neighbors, all of that." Driver has filed a letter of concern with South Dakota's Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the state agency overseeing the refinery's licensing process. "We chose to live here because this is where we wanted to raise our children." Christina worries the refinery will lead to increased traffic and an increase in crime because of the expected increase in population.
There hasn't been a time where we've come to Elk Point and haven't just had to fight tooth and nail to get people to talk about this project. There's a lot of controversy surrounding it, you know that. That even extends to the mayor who was a little hesitant to sit down with me and talk about all this but finally agreed.
"This part of the country needs better, higher paying jobs and this would provide that. These jobs would run 20 to 40 dollars an hour." Elk Point Mayor Isabel Trobuagh tells me the project would help her small town survive while others fade away. But she brings up a point Action News has been looking into for months. Since voters approved the re-zoning necessary for the refinery, Hyperion has remained largely silent about their plans. Months ago, we asked Hyperion: if they got state approval, would they build in Elk Point? The company has always maintained they were looking at other unidentified midwest locations..not just Union County. The company didn't answer our question. And Mayor Trobaugh told us this; "...the commitment I got is if the air quality permits goes through and all the permits go through and they get the funding they will build here."
Action News Anchor Brian Allen asked her, "They told you that?"
Trobuagh responded: "But there's that 'if' ".
Governor Mike Rounds supports the project for it's economic development possibilities and believes the slow economy could speed the project along. "Construction costs have not been escalating at the prices they were before which is encouraging for them."
But what is next for Hyperion? I contacted a company spokesman on February 26th, March 5th and March 12th, asking to speak with someone for this story. I was finally able to this afternoon. Hyperion says they're *hoping* all permits are approved by the state. But what about the big question? If the permits are approved, will Hyperion build in Union County? Hyperion spokesman Eric Williams. "Best as we can tell yes an there's lots of other factors that aren't within our control and if everything works out to our favor we're very eager to proceed at the Elk Point site." Troubling news for Christina Driver. "I would not move to phoenix and say 'You know, I think I want to raise corn here so we're gonna move out all thse suburbs we're just gonna get rid of them...' "
A point of view Elk Point Mayor Trobaugh understands, with a caveat. "Something you have to change the way of life that you have for the betterment of the community and for the betterment of your country."
Mayor Trobaugh believes the Hyperion refinery will help America reduce it's dependence on foreign oil. Hyperion says if they receive all the proper permits for this proposed oil refinery, construction would begin sometime in 2010, with production beginning in 2014

Monday, March 9, 2009

A New Player

March 11th, 2009
A New player.
This might be kind of a different article this week. Let’s see where it takes us. I held off writing it so that I might be able to include some news from a new non-profit organization that has been formed called SEEDCo. (Sustainable Energy and Economic Development). Their website is, or This organization was formed in conjunction with efforts by Save Union County, The Sierra Club and COOP. I went to a community workshop at the university Saturday to listen to speakers talking about alternative and renewable energies such as solar, wind, biomass etc. and what we can do to help.
This organization is taking a different approach to helping the fight against Hyperion. Their purpose is to educate us into taking personal action to help the environment by utilizing methods of conservation, renewable energy sources, recycling and many others to combat the climate warming that is happening. By becoming involved in this process, we reduce our dependence on foreign oil, which in turn will slow down the refining process, which will reduce consumption of oil, which will discourage companies like Hyperion from building refineries, which will keep our countryside clean and pristine like it is now. That was a mouthful wasn’t it? Kind of like the Domino effect. You might say this is the passive approach to convince Hyperion that they don’t want to come here. We are actually killing three birds with one stone. It will convince Hyperion this is a bad idea, and they will teach us how to conserve, preserve the environment, and save money doing it. That is a win-win-win situation if you ask me.
I have always tried to look to the positive when things are happening. This economic crisis we are experiencing is already having a positive effect on people’s lives. (What?) There is an old saying that those that don’t learn from history are doomed to repeat it. I don’t know if doomed is the right word, but we are repeating history. I’m not old enough to remember the depression, (I wasn’t born till 1942) but I am old enough to remember the aftershock of the depression and the “dirty30’s.” I was born in Nebraska, and when I was growing up my family was poor. Everyone was poor. The difference was that kids didn’t know they were poor. Our parents kept this information from us. The fact that everyone was in the same boat didn’t really make much difference. We survived. I can remember my parents telling me how very important it was that I get an education so that I would never have to go through what they went through. Guess what? It is happening all over again. But – and I say this optimistically, this turn of events is a good thing. We are fast becoming an entitlement society. A lot of people are saying “You Owe Me!” I’m sorry, but nobody owes you diddley. Nobody says life is fair, but we will get through this. Do you know why? This is once again going to teach people the meaning of HUMILITY. (Lord knows we could use a dose of it) We are going to find out how much backbone we have in us, because times are going to get tougher. Just one example of this is that homeowners are getting a raw deal. The value of our homes from a year ago will not recover in our lifetime, but again, nobody said life was fair. This isn’t just happening here, it is happening all over the world. But, if you are strong and tough it out, we will get through this. We are being forced to get rid of the “me” attitude and start thinking “we”. We are America! We are strong!
Back to my story. Now is the time for change. If ever there was an opportunity to accept change, this is it. Current events are forcing us to look at different ways of doing things and to accept a different lifestyle. The use of alternative energy is one of those lifestyle changes. Wind energy is initially expensive. We were told that to put up just one tower is now going to cost $3-5 million dollars. The return on that investment is 9-10 years, but 10 years from now the cost for electricity should go down. (Where have you heard that before?). The point is that once we start using solar and wind energy we will be using less oil, and that is the objective. 1) It helps the environment. 2) It saves you money, and 3) no Hyperion.
There is a public hearing coming up around the 15th of April in Elk Point. The state of South Dakota Water and Minerals board will be conducting a public hearing on whether or not to grant an air permit for Hyperion to begin construction. This is your last opportunity to try to persuade and influence the board not to grant this permit. If the board grants the permit, that will give the green light to Hyperion to begin the construction phase of the refinery. They will still have many, many permits to get, but they can start. When you go to the hearing to speak, the board does not want to hear sympathy. The fact that your farm has been in the family for 900 years doesn’t mean squat. The consequence of why you may lose your farm that has been in the family forever IS important to them. These are the facts they need to hear. Keep it short; keep it simple; keep it sweet.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Comment letter to SD DENR

here is a copy of a letter i sent to the state of SD DENR contesting the Big Stone II power plant. the only problem i have with submitting letters of objection like this is that the people you are objecting to are the same people that approved it, and they don't like to be criticized that they are totally inept in their job. it is too bad this can't be submitted to a higher authority (God) for his approval..

Mr. Brian Gustafson, Administrator
Air Quality Program, South Dakota DENR
Division of Environment
520 East Capitol, Joe Foss Building
Pierre, SD., 57501

Dear Mr. Gustafson
Since the process of the Air Quality Permit for Big Stone II closely parallels the process that must be done with the Hyperion Oil Refinery, I read with great interest the objections raised by the EPA on the Big Stone Facility and feel an obligation to file an objection with the DENR on the permit request by Otter Tail Public Power for a 600 Megawatt power facility in Big Stone, South Dakota.
Under the Clean Air Act revision in 1990 the Congress of the United States revised and expanded the role of the EPA in enforcing regulations to reduce air pollution. In order to apply the standards of the Clean Air Act nationwide, the EPA delegated some of this responsibility to the states. When the EPA delegated authority to South Dakota DENR to act in its behalf, it also delegated responsibility. It is my understanding that it is the responsibility of DENR to uphold those standards when it comes to permitting companies to build facilities that will pollute the environment. I do not see that the DENR is acting in the best interests of the citizens of South Dakota. In fact, if you read the papers and applications submitted by Otter Tail, the DENR is acting in the best interests of Big Stone II, not the citizens of South Dakota.
One of the requirements of the EPA that is directed by the Clean Air Act as amended in 1990 to set National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) (40 CFR part 50) for pollutants harmful to public health and the environment. 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.
The EPA Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards (QAQPS) has set National Ambient Air Quality Standards for six principal pollutants, which are called “criteria” pollutants. I have listed them below.

National Ambient Air Quality Standards
Carbon Monoxide (CO)
8-hour Average
9 ppm
10 mg/m3
1-hour Average
35 ppm
40 mg/m3
Lead (Pb)
Quarterly Average

1.5 µg/m3
Primary & Secondary
Nitrogen Dioxide (NO2)
Annual Arithmetic Mean
0.053 ppm
100 µg/m3
Primary & Secondary
Ozone (O3)
1-hour Average*
0.12 ppm
235 µg/m3
Primary & Secondary
8-hour Average
0.08 ppm
157 µg/m3
Primary & Secondary
Particulate < 10 micrometers (PM-10)
Annual Arithmetic Mean

50 µg/m3
Primary & Secondary
24-hour Average

150 µg/m3
Primary & Secondary
Particulate < 2.5 micrometers (PM-2.5)
Annual Arithmetic Mean

15 µg/m3
Primary & Secondary
24-hour Average

65 µg/m3
Primary & Secondary
Sulfur Dioxide (SO2)
Annual Arithmetic Mean
0.03 ppm
80 µg/m3
24-hour Average
0.14 ppm
365 µg/m3
3-hour Average
0.50 ppm
1300 µg/m3

Big Stone II (BSII) threatens the quality of air and water not only South Dakota, but Minnesota and North Dakota. I am very concerned about BSII. I believe it is imperative that to prevent serious pollution of the surrounding area the facility must abide by MACT standards as directed by the EPA in their objections to this facility. In light of the words spoken by recently elected President Barak Obama and his desire to reduce carbon emissions throughout the United States, BSII is doing just the opposite. This is not the time to be releasing more carbon – the main cause of global warming - into the atmosphere. Nitrogen Oxide is one of the primary components of ozone, or smog. Sulfur dioxide is the primary component of soot. Some soot particles are so small they can become embedded in the lungs and this is dangerous for the elderly, the young children, and people with lung diseases.
I believe there is general consensus that the pollutants from BSII will create havoc with the plant and animal life in this area. Big Stone National Wildlife Refuge is a major waterfowl and migration area. If I’m not mistaken, there is a mapped bald eagle’s nest about 0.3 miles from the site. The bald eagle still remains a federally threatened species gentlemen.
I believe the EPA made it very clear in its letter of January 22nd 2009 that they object to the proposed Title V operating permit renewal for the BSII power Plant. Under the guidance of the Clean Air Act as amended in 1990 the state of South Dakota may enact stricter standards than the EPA but not less strict.
I urge you gentlemen to deny the clean air permit under the grounds that it does not meet the standards required to build a power facility in Big Stone, South Dakota

Sincerely yours

Say What?

March 4th, 2009
Say What?
As you may know from my previous articles, I am following the happenings with Big Stone II up in Milbank very closely, because as goes BSII, so goes Hyperion. They are a little bit ahead of us in the timeline portion of getting permits for construction on their 600 megawatt power station. They have the same problems with their permits that Hyperion is having. What standard of pollution controls do they put on the system to pass inspection to begin construction?
I spent a little over an hour on the phone the other day with Mr. Christopher Ajayi from the EPA Region 8 office in Denver. He is the individual that wrote the 23 pages of objections during the comment period on the Clean Air Permit for Hyperion. He was very informative and gave me all the information I was asking for plus more. After I was off the phone, I think the fog was a bit thicker. Now I’m a whole lot confused rather than a little bit confused. There must be something to that phrase “Too much information.”
This next part is really complex but I will try to explain it as best I can. The bottom line is that Hyperion is sneaking in under the wire with this refinery (as if I needed to tell you that!) They are intending to build it to the weakest standards and as cheaply as possible. They are purposely skirting laws in order to save money and avoid outside control.
One of the first questions asked of Mr. Ajayi was why was BSII being held to MACT (Maximum Available Technology) and Hyperion is only BACT (Best Available Technology) ? He said that BSII is a power plant providing electricity to external sources. Hyperion is a consumer and all of the power produced will be used internally. Hyperion is building a 200 megawatt facility and buys the rest of the power they need off the GRID. (The GRID is what they call electrical power plants that distribute electricity to centers around the country, like East River, Great Basin, and Otter Tail etc.) I asked why Hyperion just doesn’t build a 300 megawatt power plant then they won’t have to buy power. He said “very good question.” However, if they have excess electricity then they will have to sell it on the GRID, and then they are subject to rules and regulations of DOE, PUC and others. They will not have total control on how the power plant is operated. BADDA BING! ! ! ! ! Rather than subject themselves to being controlled by regulatory agencies, they will under build the facility and buy the rest off the GRID to avoid that outside control. Hyperion has said it will buy 50 megawatts of electricity from the GRID. How nice of them to put money into the local economy. - - Dirty rats…
Then I asked about an Environmental Impact Statement and asked why BSII had to submit one and Hyperion does not. Same thing, BSII is a producer and Hyperion is a Consumer. Sneaky, Sneaky, Sneaky…
We were talking about effects of pollution and I said I still didn’t understand why one facility was MACT standards and the other BACT. He said there is a difference in the makeup of VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds) versus particulate in the matter of a power plant burning coal versus a refinery burning pet coke and coal for the purpose of refining crude oil. I said ok, but we are talking about a 200 megawatt plant and a 600 megawatt plant, what’s the difference? He said, the BSII is using “clean” coal and has more particulate matter than VOC, and Hyperion is using Pet Coke and coal creating Syn Gas, which in turn generates more VOC than particulate matter (soot, ash, dust and smoke). Now here is where I get lost. Ok I said then why isn’t Hyperion MACT because of the VOC and the fact that tar sands is very dirty. He said that because there can be two types of pollution standards coming out of the stack. It is all dependent on how much nitrous oxide, sulfur dioxide, ammonia, methane, lead, and mercury (VOC)is ejected as to what control standards are set. So I said ok it can be subject to both BACT and MACT. Yes they can. Now I’m really confused. Hyperion will be polluting more but subject to more relaxed standards, but since BSII is selling and not consuming they have more stringent standards. SAY WHAT???
I asked him why in the EPA report that they sent to the state, DENR said thank you for your information but we are going to do it our way? Well he said, the EPA gives states certain latitudes and authority under the Clean Air Act of 1990 to control permits and the EPA doesn’t have the authority to deny the permit for Hyperion at this point. Again, the state has the authority to do this. The EPA doesn’t really have authority until the refinery gets to the construction phase. Then they have 12 months after the refinery becomes operational to meet MACT standards. If they don’t then we can shut them down until they retool to meet standards. I asked why anyone would build to a standard they know will not meet EPA standards when it is going to cost them $10 Billion to build and then they can’t go into operation. He said that is a good question. He was wondering the same thing.
If this refinery were to come to town, there isn’t anyone in this state that would be able to tell you what the hell is going on. Do you see a trend here folks? Remember the terms Transparency and State of the Art? What a load of Crap! This is all deceit and deception. That’s the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help me God!