Refinery not needed

To the editor:

The Southern Union County Leader-Courier's end-of-year articles (Jan. 3) demonstrate why Union County does not need an oil refinery to be a thriving community.

"Union County was again ranked among the top ten" best places to live in rural America. There is "continued economic growth" in the sectors of health, agriculture, and technology with new businesses adding jobs and revenue.

The local school districts offer buildings, technology, and services which people all over the country only wish to have for their children. I know numerous young people who have stayed in or returned to Union County to raise their families in a healthy, nurturing environment.

In fact, South Dakota has a faster rate of population growth compared to Nebraska and Iowa (Leader-Courier, Jan. 3).

Despite the rhetoric of Hyperion, Gov. Rounds, the Elk Point Economic Development Committee, and some people who have optioned their land, Union County seems to be doing very well — without Hyperion's "help."

Why allow a little-known, unproven company to build an energy center which, in many ways, will lower the quality of life in Union County?

Karen Eidem
Elk Point resident,
Minneapolis, MN

Oppose refinery

To the editor:

We are writing in reference to the proposed Hyperion Refinery that is proposed for Union County. We strongly urge the citizens of Clay and Union counties to oppose the building of this refinery. Let us explain why.

First, contrary to Hyperion's assertion, there is no such thing as a "green" refinery. All refineries belch out life threatening, cancer causing pollutants such as benzene. Further, they all despoil air, land, and water resources. This proposed refinery, in all likelihood, will be worse. The oil to be refined in the Union County refinery would come from Alberta's tar sands, a particularly heavy, sour crude type of crude oil. This means it would contain more pollutants and take more refining than light, sweet crude refined out of places like Saudi Arabia. This refinery will be the sixth largest in the nation, refining some 400,000 barrels of oil per day. When we compare the output of pollutants from other refineries, we find that the Hyperion will release 7228 tons (that's 14,457,150 pounds) of estimated pollutants into the air every year.

Second, our family moved to the Union/Clay county area from the East Coast seven years ago. We specifically made this area our home because of its family atmosphere, security, small farm opportunities, and sustainable infrastructure. With the coming of Hyperion, all of this is about to change. Our schools, already pressed for resources, will be challenged to teach large numbers of new, incoming students. Our roads will face unprecedented amounts of truck traffic. Crime will rise. Drug and alcohol abuse will rise. I would venture to say that our property taxes would also rise. The present way of life that we enjoy will undoubtedly be strained.

Finally, we think it is important to understand that oil economies are boom and bust. What happens in 30 years when the tar sands are exhausted and after dumping literally millions of pounds of pollutants into our land and water, the company decides to leave? Is cleaning the mess that we made the legacy that we leave our children?

We pray not.


Terry Robertson
Sandy Robertson


Say goodbye to pure air

To the editor:

"Oh beautiful for spacious skies, for amber waves of grain, for purple mountain majesties above the fruited plain …"

And then Hyperion Resources came to Union County, and things changed forever.

I was born in Elk Point, we owned a family farm a few miles from the junction. My grandparents, cousins and uncles are buried in the Alhshog Cemetery.

Many times in the winter I walked into the corn field of my uncle's farm. The sky was pristine and air so pure that it burned my lungs to take a breath.

Although I moved to a warm state for my health, I have permanent ties to that place.

For those of you lured by the promise of high wages, are you willing to sacrifice forever 5,000 acres of arable land?

Are you forever willing to enable Hyperion to alter the Missouri River as they pump out millions of gallons daily and pour back the warm effluent? A former forestry official told me that the fish around Louisiana refineries are horribly deformed.

None of this should happen. Existing refineries should be repaired and upgraded after all, our government pays oil companies huge subsidies.

No need for the "bread basket" of our nation to be destroyed forever. Polluted air, destruged river, possible oil spills across the fields.

Three years – and the clock is ticking. Take a deep breath of pure air for it could be your last.


Nancy Englund-Moreno
Albuquerque, MN

Hyperion center won't be clean

To the editor:

For those of you who are indifferent to or casually persuaded of the merits of the proposed Hyperion refinery, consider that Hyperion would like you to believe two things; they will bring boom times to the local economy and the state, and they will provide a clean refinery.

There will be substantial economic effects on the region. However there is no reason to believe "clean energy center" would be even close to an accurate description of this proposed refinery.

We have been told that we going to have the cleanest refinery in the country. Yet this Alberta crude is the foulest on the planet, requiring more processing and resulting in more pollutants. This will not be a clean refinery. At best it would be not as dirty as many of the rest.

There are many reasons to believe this. Not the least of which is that the EPA is not doing its job very well under the misguided hands of the Bush administration. Consequently many states and cities have passed much more stringent emission controls.

Even Hyperion acknowledges the enormous quantities of pollutants generated. How could they deny it? Yet they still make a statement favorably comparing some of their emissions with the Port Neal plant in Iowa.

Port Neal emissions are insignificant compared to what Hyperion would emit. The EPA itself admits to missing emissions from startups, shutdowns, malfunctions and maintenance and also acknowledges many instances of oil companies under-reporting their toxic emissions. Also cumulative health impacts are not considered in toxicological reviews by regulatory agencies, because toxicology is not advanced enough to understand cumulative mixtures and how they affect human health.

Similarly those of you taking prescription drugs have to be mindful of negative interactions among them.

The sixth largest refinery in the US would not be like a Daktronics plant, a 3M plant, or a Wal-Mart. It would not even be an out-sized scaled up version of these.

Physically it would be a gargantuan deformation of the surrounding area. It will thoroughly mutilate several square miles and violate the spirit of the place totally.

The unlivable space around this belching behemoth will expand and property values will decline. A way of life will have ended.

The opponents of this project have received unsatisfactory or no answers as yet to many questions. The residents and merchants of Union and Clay counties who only see big money need to inform themselves in ways other than just being recipients of Hyperion burp up.

Also the Planning and Zoning Commission and the county commissioners in Union County have a big responsibility to do much more than just provide janitorial services to clear Hyperion's path.

In spite of Hyperion's congenial public face, anybody who has this much skin in the game cannot be expected to force feed you all the truths you need to know. This is just axiomatic for a good beady-eyed business.

It is not clear to me that Hyperion will even put in the best available technology (BACT) unless forced to do so, and in South Dakota it is hard to see this happening. To do so would probably cost them tens of millions of dollars.

Why have oil companies have been resisting these things for years? Even with the best available current technology, we are just putting a dress on the pig.

Our future for liquid fuels should be alcohol based not petroleum based. Whatever problems develop with this alternative, we have better options in using both methanol and ethanol in flex fuel vehicles like the Brazilians have very successfully done.

The prosperity of the oil industry and OPEC on the one hand, and the health and prosperity of the country are pointing in different directions.

Tom Cooper

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