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High court asked to throw out oil refinery permit

Associated Press Modified: October 3, 2012 at 7:01 pm •  Published: October 3, 2012

The Sierra Club and two local groups, Save Union County and Citizens Opposed to Oil Pollution, argue the refinery could emit too much pollution and damage the quality of life for nearby residents in the rural area.

Hyperion had thousands of acres of land-purchase options in Union County secured for the refinery, but the company failed to extend them on Sept. 30. Vice President Preston Phillips said the company is still talking to landowners, but is committed to the project and its March construction start deadline.

"We're confident we can reach an agreement with them," he said after the hearing.

Hyperion officials have said that efforts to secure financing are progressing but they have not provided details.

Ed Cable, of Save Union County, said he thinks letting the options slip marks the end of the project, as the company now has no place to build.

"They will not get land control and have to start over," he said.

The Board of Minerals and Environment originally issued an air quality permit in August 2009 that called for construction to begin by Feb. 20, 2011, but company officials said the project was delayed because the recession caused problems in securing financing.

The original permit also was appealed in court, and the board issued a revised permit in September that reflected updated national air quality standards and new pollution-control technology. The revised permit also gives Hyperion until March to start construction.

Robert Graham, an attorney for the opposition groups, argued that the board was wrong to extend the deadline for construction to begin.

But Addison said the company took the right step in seeking revisions to the original permit and an extension of the construction deadline and did it in a timely manner.