Elk Point, South Dakota is working on a comprehensive improvement plan for coming years, but officials aren't factoring in a multi-billion dollar oil refinery intended to be built in the area.
Elk Point Planning and Zoning officials say their city will gain about 540 people by 2035. To accommodate, they're considering improvements to infrastructure and annexing county land for more commercial, industrial, and residential space. Officials' plans don't take Hyperion Energy's $10 billion refinery into account because they say its completion is too uncertain.
If built in rural Union County, the benefits would be big; 1,800 permanent jobs, plus more than $100 million in annual tax revenue, split amongst the state, county and school district.
The Texas-based company's plan faces some serious challenges, however. Last year, they lost the options on the about 5,000 acres of land set aside for the project. And March 15th, their air quality permit will expire if construction hasn't started.
Elk Point officials are wondering if the project will ever be completed.
"I don't know what to think of it anymore. I hope we get something. If that's it, so be it. We need something here," said member of the Elk Point Planning and Zoning Commission, Andy Curry.
Hyperion wouldn't comment on the land options, but company reps say they're "giving serious consideration" to asking for an extension of the air permit.
One of the environmental groups against the project, Save Union County, says Hyperion is about to run out of time.
"They have exhausted their last opportunity to do anything. To our knowledge, they have no ground control and certainly have no ability to build anything like what they have a permit for," said group spokesperson, Ed Cable.
Cable says his group will feel relieved once the March 15th deadline passes.
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