UPDATE: Hyperion "committed" to building in Union County, SD - KTIV News 4 Sioux City IA: News, Weather and Sports

UPDATE: Hyperion "committed" to building in Union County, SD

Hyperion officials say they're "committed" to building project in Union County, SD. Hyperion officials say they're "committed" to building project in Union County, SD.

"Hyperion is committed to building this project in Union County, South Dakota," said Preston Phillips, Hyperion Vice President. Even after declining options on the land meant for its "energy center", Hyperion officials are still confident they can build its oil refinery.

Before Hyperion can break ground, though, it has two big hurdles to clear. It has to re-option the Union County farmland it recently let go. After all, it's the only land in the county zoned for an oil refinery.

And, Hyperion needs the courts to grant its air quality permit. The latter was the focus of today's hearing before the South Dakota Supreme Court.

At issue... critics objections over a decision by the State Board of Minerals and Environment to issue an air quality permit to Hyperion without an environmental impact statement. Gabrielle Segal, Plaintiff's attorney says, "It's clear that both the board, and the department, abused their discretion because it was based on clear errors of law."

Opponents of the project-- "Save Union County", the Sierra Club, and Citizens Opposed to Oil Pollution-- asked for the statement to determine the refinery's overall impact on air, water and soil in Union County. Hyperion's lawyers argue state law doesn't require such a statement in this case, and it wouldn't be as comprehensive as opponents want it to be. Rick Addison, Attorney for Hyperion says, "The notion that this project is going to go... is not going to be subjected to strict scrutiny is just not true. It's not wouldn't be scrutinized just isn't true. It just doesn't happen within the air portion of this project."

The appeal also focused on Hyperion's request for an extension of the deadline to start construction on the Union County site. Opponents say the 18-month window the state gave Hyperion to start construction opened when the State Board of Minerals and Environment authorized the air quality permit in August of 2009. Robert Graham, Plaintiff's attorney says, "Although a permit applicant can apply for an extension during the 18-month period, to the secretary of DENR, that application does not stop the running of the 18-month period."

Graham maintains the "clock" ran out in February of 2011. Hyperion's attorneys say the company applied for an amendment to the air quality permit in June of 2010. And, they argue statutes say the permit doesn't expire until an agency takes action on its amendment, or renewal. The State Board of Minerals and Environment took another eight months to issue the amended permit in September 2011. Rick Addison, Attorney for Hyperion says, "So, the notion that you show up at the door to get an amendment, and DENR flips a switch, and you get your amended permit, is nonsense."

Hyperion has received a second extension since then. It now has until March of 2013 of start construction.

The South Dakota Supreme Court could take months to issue its ruling.

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