SIOUX FALLS, SD -
Hyperion Energy says it is still committed to building a $10 billion oil refinery in South Dakota.
The news comes from company Vice President Preston Phillips just two days after Hyperion allowed all of its Union County land options to expire.
Phillips made the statement after the South Dakota Supreme Court heard arguments over the Texas-based-company's air permit Wednesday.
Refinery opponents are appealing the air permit saying the Department of Environmental and Natural Resources should have done an Environmental Impact Statement before the permit was approved.
"What we have here is that we had an air permit, essentially the chimney of a house that was built without looking at the entire blueprint for the project,” attorney for Hyperion opponents Gabrielle Sigel said. “The entire blueprint, how it affects the surrounding area, is exactly what the EIS does."
"You would be asking DENR at its air division, and the board with its make up, to perform an environmental review that would not only involve air, but cultural resources, Indian artifacts, burial grounds; are we going to have DENR doing that in the air division?" Hyperion’s attorney Frederick Addison asked.
Hyperion says it hopes to have new options for the land it needs for the refinery by the time the South Dakota Supreme Court makes its decision on the air permit.
"We're committed to starting construction as defined by the Clean Air Act before the deadline on March 15," Phillips said.
Phillips says the company may not have land options, but will continue to work with Union County landowners to secure the property needed.
"It's going to be a challenge, but that's what we're committed to doing," Phillips said.
Ed Cable, organizer of the group Save Union County, which opposes the project and was part of Wednesday’s appeal, says Hyperion will not be able to get the land it needs.
"I think it will be impossible," Cable said.
That's because Cable says he's talked with landowners who had options and they are glad that the options have expired because they weren't getting paid.
"Conversations with the landowners who were extremely happy to have the options become null and void because of lack of payment, not because of choice," Cable said.
Hyperion says the Supreme Court's ruling on the air permit could make or break the project because Phillips said without an air permit, you can’t build ‘a project like this.’
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