Monday, February 21, 2011

You say Tomato, I say Tomahto

<$BlogMetaData$>February 23rd, 2011

You say Tomato, I Say Tomahto

As the days go on and on and on since we first heard the ugly word “Gorilla”, things are becoming more convoluted. Over the last 3 years our people have been saying on an almost weekly or daily basis what is wrong with having an oil refinery in Union County converting the ugly tar sands from Canada to gasoline products. Time sure flies don’t it? It is hard to believe we’ve been at this since 2007. We have said time and time again, with accurate information I might add, the harmful effects of the emissions from the refinery. We have reported on the dangers of the pipeline. We have emphasized the negative effects this will have on the community and infrastructure. What more do we need to do to convince people this is not a good thing? This is not economic development folks, this is economic disaster.

With up to 10,000 workers in this area for the 5 years it will take to get this behemoth up and running, it is plain and simple, we can’t afford it. We can’t afford it health wise, we can’t afford it economy wise, and we can’t afford it environmentally. So my question is: WHY WON’T PEOPLE LISTEN? We are screaming from the rooftops, but everyone must be like me; hard of hearing. Either that or they don’t want to listen.

One has to wonder what benefit there is for people to be so all fired up over something so harmful. We must remember that even though the unemployment rate in this area is under 5%, to be employed by the refinery one must have the skills the refinery is looking for. It always amuses me when I read the application that Hyperion submitted, that one of the many benefits they continually emphasized was that farmers and their wives could all work at the refinery on their off hours. What a joke. It just shows to go ya how much they know about the people in this area. What do they think farmers do all day?

One cannot invest in the refinery because Hyperion is a privately owned company. ALL the money is headed for Texas. So what is the big deal? I know it isn’t cheap gas because I printed a chart in one of my other articles what the price of gas is around other refineries.

So where is the economic development? Oh, I forgot. The workers need someplace to release all that pent up energy from working all day, so bars, night clubs and restaurants are going to sprout up all over the place. Kinda like what is happening at Garryowen.

I do know that there will be more jobs because our infrastructure cannot support an additional 5,000 to 10,000 immigrants, (that is a bad word isn’t it?), migrant workers. This means the private sector will be building AND PAYING for the infrastructure to support Hyperion. My only concern is how is this economic development when we have to build the entire infrastructure to support the refinery. Is this a lose-lose situation or what?

I’m sorry to be so cynical about this whole deal, but the Sioux City Journal last Sunday printed this article about the ‘bullet’ pipeline coming from Canada and touted the fact that Hyperion said again that construction will start with vigor in August 2011. What a load of crap. I’m getting really tired of reading the same thing over and over. I suppose you are getting tired of me saying the same thing over and over as well. I say it because we must persevere. I still want to know Why Union County. It makes absolutely no sense.

The Board of Minerals and Environment met last Thursday in Pierre. I don’t know what the outcome is going to be but I can guess. The vote will be 9-0 to grant the extension. Starting last Friday and for the next 30 days is the comment period on the request. Then if there is no objection, the panel will vote. I know there will be objections, so then there will be another 30 day waiting period for the BME to respond, then it will go to a contested hearing, then we will end up in court. Where have you heard all this before?

An article in this month’s Union County Electric magazine, written by Robert B. Laughlin, entitled “What the Earth Knows” says it is up to each one of us to decide whether climate change and global warming are in fact happening, or is it just a fact of the earth’s natural cycle. He said that the geologic record suggests that climate ought not to concern us too much when we’re gazing into the energy future, not because it’s unimportant, but because it’s beyond our power to control.

Well, ashes to ashes and dust to dust, this is one piece of dust that isn’t giving up without a fight, no matter what. Are you with me?

Sunday, February 13, 2011

I'm really torqued off

<$BlogMetaData$>I’m really torqued off!

How do you say ‘I’m really pissed off’ in English? I take great pride in the fact that information in the articles that I submit to the paper is correct. I may add quirky little quips after some of the things I say. My remarks to articles that I write about have a biased slant to them; that is the whole purpose of this column, but I print the facts. I may not agree with them, but I print them. If I agree with my sources, I say why. If I disagree, I say why. If I write it, you can be assured that what I’m saying is correct. (Sgt Joe Friday used to say ‘just the facts ma’am, just the facts)

Now having said that, I wish there were some other papers that could say that. There was a press release put out last week by DENR or Hyperion about some issues that have arisen about the proposed refinery in Union County. Other papers chose to pick this statement apart and only use portions of it. That is why I’m really torqued off. I am either naive or innocent. (I know I’m not innocent so I must be naïve). It has always been my understanding, up until now, that the papers printed the news but left it up to the reader to determine if it was right or wrong and agree or disagree. (‘Not so’.) I can understand a liberal or conservative slant to the news, but to omit facts altogether to enhance your viewpoint is not good journalism in my view. In fact I consider it propaganda. Propaganda, yes that is a good term to use isn’t it? If a paper purposely misleads the reader on one subject do you suppose they do it on others as well? (Oh No-o-o-o-). Why that would be propaganda not news reporting. To me when a paper loses its credibility they lose everything.

I would like to quote James Heisinger again on his thoughts for the EPA. “We must support the EPA; they arrived like a gift from God, just in time to stall an incredible and deserving flood of industrial carcinogens and environmental destruction, a gift from corporate America. Unless we at least support the EPA, and place some trust in science the good life on this good earth will continue the present remarkably rapid change. We will have cast ourselves out of the figurative Garden of Eden.”

Sometimes articles are written to inform you and sometimes they are written to scare you. in the February issue of the Union County Electric ‘Cooperative Connections’ was an article about your electric rates possibly going up and the cause and effect of the EPA putting new regulations into effect. It is my opinion that this is an article written to scare everyone to be against the EPA because of them all utility companies will be forced to raise their rates. The name of the article is “Red Tape Overload”. One of the most scaring paragraphs in the article says – “Clearly, EPA is wielding the Clean Air Act as a bludgeon, pressing it into service because the outgoing Congress was unable to agree on how to curb greenhouse gases emissions blamed for contributing to climate change.” Notes Glenn English, CEO of the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association (NRECA) based in Arlington VA.

The rest of the article points to different decisions the EPA has rendered that have resulted in unfavourable situations for people.

I would like to remind people that the EPA was created by the clean air act of 1970. It had 2 missions at that time which was to regulate smog emissions from automobiles in the United States, mainly California and stop Acid Rain which was decimating the forests throughout the north and northeast. As a result of their aggressive rulings, California now has the strictest rules in the country for emissions from not only automobiles but factories and coal fired power plants as well. Acid rain is a thing of the past. You never hear of instances of acid rain devastating the forests anymore.

Now however, industry especially power plants are preaching to anyone that will listen that because of the stringent demands of the EPA your electric rates will go through the roof. Power companies are refusing to make changes to meet the standards and are putting the blame on everyone but themselves. Scare Tactics!

Have they asked us what we are going to do when the rates increase? No they have not. I’m sure we will do the same thing when other adversities face us, we will improvise and adapt. We have done that since forever when faced with shortages. We will turn to alternative energies. We will conserve. We will do without, but we will change. Prices on commodities are based on the law of supply and demand. We demand and they supply. When they have a glut on the market for electricity the price will come down. Their profits will no longer be double and triple digits for the stockholders, but a more moderate profit margin and maybe even a loss, but we will come out the better for it.

Climate change and global warming is not a myth. It is fact. Last year in Antarctica there was a glacier that broke away from the continent that was larger than the state of Rhode Island. Why did this happen? It happened because of global warming. Birds are migrating earlier; weather anomalies are more frequent both in summer and winter around the world. Why does this happen? Climate change is why this is happening.

It is up to each and every one of us to support the EPA in this challenging time because if not for the EPA and environmental organizations like the Sierra Club not stepping in there would be nobody to stop industry from running ramped and things will continue to get worse. All because of GREED. Plain and simple GREED. Even if we do nothing, i can guarantee that your rates will continue to rise. Now you can understand why I’m really torqued off.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Who's to blame

<$BlogMetaData$>Who’s to blame?

I think Hyperion and the state DENR are playing a game of cat and mouse. Just when one thinks they have heard everything about the proposed Hyperion center, something new crops up. I don’t know who to blame; the state, the press, Hyperion or all three.

There was a press release from Hyperion or DENR talking about Hyperion having to add 4 preheaters to their refinery process to become compliant with the new EPA standards for GHG (greenhouse gasses) and the fact that they wanted this process to be confidential because the methodology used is proprietary and could be used by other companies in the industry. This is a very competitive market stated Hyperion and they want to keep it under their hat. (a really teeny tiny one) I’ve never heard such hokum in my life and really got upset that these guys are playing games.

Then I went to the DENR website just to check things out and lo and behold this conversation between DENR and Hyperion has been going on since last September or October. Initially DENR wanted Hyperion to add 21 pre-heaters. They bartered back and forth and Hyperion finally said they would add 4 heaters to the 9 already in the plans. Nobody in the press reported accurately what has been going on. The way it comes out in the paper is that Hyperion agreed to add 4 more preheaters at a cost of $18 million out of the goodness of their heart and said that anything more would not be cost effective. Now here comes the good part. It was DENR, not Hyperion that figured out what the savings would be. Who is building this thing DENR or Hyperion? My thoughts are that Hyperion comes up with this goofey idea for a refinery and cuts and pastes a bunch of gobbledygook in a paper then lets DENR do all the math which saves Hyperion the work because they don’t have the expertise nor manpower to do this anyway. They just go with the flow. DENR isn’t that much better, but at least it gives them something to do.

Preston Phillips said that “Hyperion is constantly looking for ways to reduce the carbon footprint and to improve the efficiency of the refinery.” Oh really Preston. If you are looking for ways to reduce the footprint then install what the state and the EPA is asking for. When you are in the $10-12 BILLION dollar range for building something, what is another $25-50 million dollars when it will ensure the safety of the surrounding community and reduce the carbon footprint AND improve the efficiency of the refinery? They say you can always tell when a Norwegian is telling the truth, because the snoos will run out of both sides of his mouth not just one. No Norwegians at DENR or Hyperion.

Another thing that bothers me about Hyperion asking that this information be kept confidential is that by making it public, they would be giving away trade secrets. Oh come on now, how can somebody that has never done anything keep trade secrets? Just because a new refinery hasn’t been built in the last 36 years doesn’t mean people have been sitting around picking their noses. I would bet that the rest of the industry is laughing so hard it makes them cry. The only trade secret I can see here is where Hyperion is going to get their $10 Billion dollars.

By the way, adding the preheaters still doesn’t bring them under the standard, it just brings them back to the 900 tons of carbon dioxide they ‘forgot’ to add to their totals from before. Adding 4 preheaters will just change the amount of methane emissions by about 475-480 tons. When you are emitting 16 tons of GHG annually, this is a pittance. (16 tons of #9 coal and whadda get? Another day older and deeper in debt (Tennessee Ernie Ford). And we are supposed to think Hyperion is the greatest thing since crunchy peanut butter now. Get Real!

If you will remember, Hyperion was to have to start building by February 20th, 2011 or start the process all over again. Hyperion did ask for and received an extension until August 2012. I can see why now. The other thing is that they have to file with the Board of Minerals and Environment by the 25th of February 2011 to keep the information confidential. They must explain why revealing this information to the public would be harmful for Hyperion. Sounds very professional doesn’t it? You can bet your bottom dollar that the verdict will be 9-0 before they even sit down to discuss it. You must remember that Governor Rounds supported this and said he would move heaven and earth to ensure this happens. You don’t think Governor Daugaard won’t act in the same fashion? There might have been an election in November, but all that really happened is that there was just a shuffle of personnel. Nothing changes, and you can be assured that the state of South Dakota has sunk into this up to their eyeballs and it is too late for them to back out at this point of the juncture.