Wednesday, March 9, 2011

when do we reach the tipping point?

<$BlogMetaData$>When do we reach the tipping point?

I have been mulling over in my mind the events of the last 4 years and suddenly wondered when we will reach the tipping point on industries coming into Union County. For me this whole scenario started with the new zoning ordinance allowing Confined Animal Feeding Operations (CAFO’s) to be built closer to homes (acreages) than previously allowed. I fought long and hard to get the new ordinance defeated. We carried petitions and worked the county hard and we won, but it took its toll. It was a very stressful time in my life. We did it once and succeeded, do we have to do it again?

It ended up that we had the ordinance repealed by a vote of the county. But wait a minute, during the latter days of the campaign we learned that there would be an oil refinery coming to union county and it would be a HUGE one. They were called Hyperion Resources, from Dallas Texas. Now in addition to the CAFO’s we had a refinery to worry about. We were rewriting the ordinance and now had to worry about how Hyperion was going to fit in. They were taking out options on thousands of acres of land until they got land that was contiguous, then they quit.

We went through a public hearing joke with the Planning and zoning, and then it was chapter 2 with the County Commissioners. This issue was brought to a vote and heavy voting by Dakota Dunes carried it through and lo and behold the county approved an oil refinery. This is where all of us opposed to the refinery started to puke. Mind you, this was 2007. Then it was 2008 and Hyperion got the vote of the county to build. 2009 was the Board of Minerals and Environment with the air permit. Then in late 2010 they announced it wasn’t economically feasible to build a refinery because of the state of the economy and it would be built in 2012. Well, late in 2010 Mr. Eric Williams and Dick white announced that shovels would be in the ground in the summer of 2011. It is like waiting for the other shoe to drop. They are just waiting until we give up. There are so many stories going around that one doesn’t know what to believe anymore.

What I’m alluding to in all this is do we have enough fight to try to battle other industries that may be coming to Union County. What kind of opposition will there be? Are we becoming elitists and saying we don’t want any economic development here? Is there anything worse than a refinery? How do we decide what is acceptable and what isn’t? Are we going to go through the turmoil again of friends and neighbors not speaking to each other because of what may or may not be coming to Union County? Where does it end? It is like someone has opened Pandora’s Box and we can’t close it now.

If something else comes in and trust me, they will be coming; do we resign ourselves that this is economic growth? We could find each other on opposite side of the fence again. I think we need to do some soul searching and decide what each of us is willing to give up being able to live the rest of our lives in peace and harmony. What are you willing to accept as a standard for what is allowable in the county and our lives? Like, who died and left us in charge?

We are going to have to do this with every industry that might come along, and they are all going to come to Union County for one reason. We have laws that are not written for anything but agriculture and a p&z that will allow a dog to get a permit.

They have waged a successful campaign so far, and like the old saying goes, if they have the money, you can’t stop them. We can have this in the courts for the next ten years and what have we gained? Zilch, nada, zip cause they have made up their minds this is where it is going to be and that’s it. While we are fighting one industry, another will just take its place.

So I guess I’m just facing reality and resigning myself that the world is changing; some for the better and some for the worse. I only hope those who make these decisions do it wisely. I guess quality of life and love of the land doesn’t mean squat. If we are not good stewards of the land, we will suffer the consequences.

In the SCJ on Sunday was an article about Hyperion. They were quoting Cindy Schield from API (American Petroleum Institute), that the high gas prices will have little to do with whether or not Hyperion decides to build a refinery. The local economy will not see low gas prices even if Hyperion builds because of two issues; the law of supply and demand, and that gas prices are controlled by the speculators in the commodities market. I have been saying this forever, and it is really nice to see someone who works in the industry to be saying this. She does not see Hyperion as a player, because Hyperion doesn’t even belong to the API. Now what does that tell you?

What is our destiny in life? Is it behind door #1, door #2, or door #3?


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