Hyperion supporters file petitions

Hyperion supporters file petitions
Union County residents who support the proposed Hyperion Resources oil refinery announced late Wednesday that they have gathered more than enough signatures to let citizens decide the issue in a county-wide referendum vote.

J.B. Mercer, Jefferson, chairman of the executive committee of Citizens for Hyperion, told the Plain Talk Wednesday night that the petitions would be filed at the Union County auditor's office in Elk Point at 1 p.m. Thursday.

"We have hundreds more (signatures) than we need," Mercer said. "There will be an exact count tomorrow (March 20), but we have hundreds more than we need."

He said the signed petitions are being submitted in time for a June 3 referendum vote on the Hyperion issue.

Citizens for Hyperion used word of mouth to spread the news throughout the county that they were gathering signatures on petitions.

"We went canvassing last weekend, and canvassing this week," he said. "We had people sign petitions at different events."

In his personal experience during the signature gathering process, Mercer said he found citizens' attitude toward Hyperion to be "overwhelmingly positive."

Even though it appears more than enough signatures were filed with the Union County auditor Thursday, Ed Cable, spokesman for the opposition Save Union County Committee, told the Sioux City Journal his group will begin circulating similar, if not identical, petitions March 20.

He said they already had a few signatures gathered at a meeting Wednesday night.

Mercer told the Journal that all the signatures they submitted March 20 appear on the third, corrected petition form.

The group had collected some signatures on a form with a misspelled word and some on a second version that omitted the words "as passed by" in referring to the County Board of Commissioners' March 14 vote to approve a new zoning category for the project.

"We'll still be doing our drive," Cable said. "We'll wait and see and hopefully between theirs and ours, there will be more than enough to satisfy the law."

The petitions are circulated only to ask whether the residents want to vote on the new zoning, not whether they are for or against it.

That question will appear on the ballot.

The opposition group waited to begin canvassing out of concern that signatures gathered before legal notice of the zoning ordinance amendment allowing the refinery may not be counted.

The legal notice was to have been published Wednesday and today in the county's four official newspapers.

However, Secretary of State Chris Nelson said the election laws allow the petitioning process to begin immediately after the ordinance receives final passage from the commissioners.

Hyperion Resources, a Dallas, TX-based company, has proposed to build a $10 billion, 400,000-barrel-per day oil refinery on the recently rezoned 3,382 acres in southern Union County.

Mercer said Citizens for Hyperion is sincere in its attempt to have citizens vote on this issue.

"If they (the opposition) want it to go to a vote, why are they trying to stop it at every turn?" he asked. "From meeting a lot of people, I think overwhelmingly the majority of voters in Union County support the project.

"The true test will be the vote," Mercer said.

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