Union County citizens fight back against planned refinery - KSFY News - Sioux Falls, SD News, Weather, Sports

Union County citizens fight back against planned refinery

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Several farmers and property owners made the trip north to Sioux Falls today to have their day at the supreme court.

They were here to appeal air quality permits the state granted to Hyperion Resources to build a refinery in Union County.

KSFY News was in court today to hear on what grounds they argued their case.

Three citizens groups say the proper procedures weren't followed so the permits are invalid.

The state says everything was followed according to the law.

The opposing sides are not just in court but people say this issue is tearing their town apart.

Carolyn Hanson said in Union County, it's no secret knowing where your neighbors stand on the issue.

"It goes both way, those of us who have optioned their land knows who those are that aren't and vice versa," Carolyn Hanson said.

Carolyn's brother-in-law Burdett Hanson said knowing who is willing to option their land for the refinery is tearing the community apart.

"I'm 100% against it. I want this thing to get over with. it's ruined out churches, neighbors, ruined a lot of things. so I hop this thing goes over and forget about it," Burdett Hanson said.

Carolyn wonders why their area was chosen for a refinery.

"The starvation in the country and how we need to be feeding so many people, why would anyone ever want to put an oil refinery on the best farm land South Dakota has," Carolyn Hanson said.

And the environmental impact on that land? The state says a study is optional.  The citizens group argues the request for an air permit makes it necessary.

In court, citizens group attorney Gabrielle Sigel argued "to the extent that air permits are considering the public interests and the effect on public interests, then that's exactly why you want to conduct an e.i.s."

The citizens group argues the permit is invalid because it expired but the state says not so,  according to the law.

Frederick Addison, an attorney for Hyperion, said "the existing license or right to continue the activity does not expire until the application has been finally determined by the agency."

A spokesman for Hyperion said despite letting land leases expire, it is still moving forward with a plan to build a refinery here in South Dakota.

He says they are dealing with ongoing real estate issues and will continue to talk to landowners.


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