High court asked to throw out oil refinery permit

Associated Press Modified: October 3, 2012 at 7:01 pm •  Published: October 3, 2012
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) — Opponents of a proposed $10 billion oil refinery in southeastern South Dakota on Wednesday asked the state Supreme Court to strike down a state permit that would let a Texas company to begin construction.

Gabrielle Sigel, an attorney for three groups fighting the Hyperion Energy Center, said the Board of Minerals and Environment erred when it approved an air quality permit last year because its study did not include a full-blown environmental impact statement.

Sigel said the refinery would be the largest industrial project in state history and that the preparation of an impact statement should involve other agencies and evaluate a project's broader effect. State officials abused their discretion by bypassing that process, she said.

Attorneys for Hyperion and the board countered that an environmental impact statement is not required by state law that and board members took into account all relevant environmental issues when issuing the air quality permit.

The state Department of Environment and Natural Resources can require an impact statement but decided it wasn't necessary. "The board agreed," said Rick Addison, a Dallas-based attorney representing Hyperion.

The Supreme Court is expected to issue a written ruling at a later date.

Hyperion's proposed refinery north of Elk Point would process 400,000 barrels of Canadian tar sands crude oil each day into low-sulfur gasoline, diesel, jet fuel and liquid petroleum gas. It would be the first U.S. oil refinery built since 1976.

The project would include a power plant that produces electricity for the refinery. It would convert a byproduct of the refinery process — solid petroleum coke — into gas that would be burned to produce electricity.

Dallas-based Hyperion contends that the refinery would be a clean, modern plant that would use the most advanced, commercially feasible emission control technology.



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