Money buysUnion County

To the editor:

What is wrong with this picture? On Jan. 16, 70 area citizens spoke eloquently and from the heart about the myriad reasons the Union County Zoning Commission should deny Hyperion's request to rezone thousands of acres of prime agricultural land. After five hours of public testimony, the commission voted 4-1 – with absolutely no discussion or consideration of any of the documentation submitted – to approve the request.

Why is this so outrageous? First, Union County's zoning regulations have a mechanism for a corporation to apply for heavy industrial zoning. Hyperion knew they could not meet the county's sensible rules and laws, so they wrote their own, handed them to the commissioners, and asked for a rubber stamp.

The commissioners didn't listen to the scores of rural residents whose lives and livelihoods would be ruined or irrevocably altered by Hyperion's gigantic polluting refinery. They didn't listen to the pleas of medical doctors and scientists that they read submitted studies, do a little research, or seek professional analysis of what hundreds of tons of pollutants would do to our air, land, water and health. But they sure listened to the squad of lawyers and Texas tycoons. As Bob Dylan says, "Money doesn't talk; it swears."

But the fight isn't over. If the 70 people who testified, and the hundreds of neighbors who agree with them, are determined to save Union County, this refinery will not be built. We will stop it in the streets and at the polls.

Jerry Wilson

Two positives for Hyperion

To the editor:

As a native son of Vermillion (VHS class of 1966), I have watched with interest the media stories around the proposed Hyperion Oil Center, and I understand there are numerous different public opinions being voiced in the area in regard to the facility. However, from my perspective as a renewable fuels production agronomist (SDSU class of 1982), I can see how Hyperion would be interested in the Union County area as it is close to much of the new ethanol production.

The backdrop to this proposed facility, as we all know, is that our nation is short of fuel and current gas prices are weakening our economy. The new Federal Energy Bill just signed mandates the renewable fuels industry to increase production by six fold on the next 12 years. That's a tall order and very exciting for our nation's agriculture, but without a stable supply of refined petroleum products, more renewable fuels won't help as much as it might to ease energy costs and supplies. This is a composite issue: we need to work together with the petroleum industry to build more refineries, produce crude oil from more reliable sources, and to increase energy conservation.

I see two positives with the Hyperion facility. First, technology advances have changed many areas dramatically in just the last few years. In plant science, my area of expertise, technology has changed the face of plant breeding at break neck speed with the production of crops that yields more than any of us could have imagined. I believe that same green technology is now available in the oil refining industry and can be used to build one of the greatest refineries in the world. Second, I also don't believe that most of us fully realize all the benefits a development of this size could bring to a large region all around Union County.

I know that the area residents still have many concerns, and I hope that those concerns will be fully addressed soon so that the Hyperion Oil Center development can proceed.

If I were a Union County resident, I would vote to support Hyperion, and I urge the zoning commission and the county commission to vote affirmative for our bigger future as a state, a region and as a nation.

Sam Heikes,
Production Agronomist

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