A spokesman for the Texas-based Hyperion Company confirmed Monday they did not renew purchase options on 5,000 acres in rural Union County, allowing them to expire on September 30. For more than five years, the company has been working on plans for a $10 billion oil refinery north of Elk Point, South Dakota.
Those fighting the project call Monday’s news encouraging, even as a permit appeal hearing looms in front of South Dakota’s Supreme Court.
“Certainly what we represent is a voice of the people in Union County and throughout the Midwest that recognizes that not all development is a benefit to the community,” Ed Cable, who opposes the project, said.
In an email, spokesman Eric Williams says the project has not been scrapped.
"We are evaluating our various options and opportunities. We appreciate the longstanding and continued support of the landowners in Union County and are continuing to dialogue with them," Williams said.
But the group of people that wants the project stopped believes the announcement does just that, saying the expiring purchase options also mean all other work is dead in the water.
“It is a lack of action on their part for reapplying any of the steps necessary, starting from scratch. Rezoning, land acquisition, and an initial application for a new air permit,” Cable said.
Hyperion says it will have its day in court. Williams confirmed Hyperion will still appeal the current air permit argument in front of South Dakota's Supreme Court on Wednesday.
Hyperion had hoped to break ground on the more than five-year-old project in the spring of 2013. Cable says the group against the project will fight an entirely new round of permits and land purchases as they develop.