The plan put forward by Hyperion Resources to control air emissions at its proposed oil refinery in southeast South Dakota received first-round endorsement from state regulators.
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources said Thursday that it had approved a draft air quality permit for the $10 billion Hyperion Energy Center and that it would issue a final decision after a public comment period.
Texas-based Hyperion Resources in December submitted for DENR's review a 613-page application.
"On the basis of that review, DENR has completed a draft air quality permit with conditions that will protect air quality, human health and the environment. We invite everyone interested to review the draft permit and send us their questions or comments," said DENR Secretary Steve Pirner.
The public has 30 days to comment on the draft permit. Interested parties can submit comments or request a contested case hearing before the state Board of Minerals and Environment.
DENR can then respond to those comments and either revise the draft permit or keep it the way it is. The department would then issue a final permit decision, giving all who commented another opportunity to request a contested case hearing.
Ed Cable, a project opponent and member of the Save Union County opposition group, said the permit would be challenged. He declined further comment until after he could read the DENR document.
Cable, who owns land about three miles from the Hyperion site, is the plaintiff in a lawsuit challenging a zoning change from agricultural to industrial for the project.
Save Union County initially filed the lawsuit, but a judge said the group doesn't own land that would be affected and must step aside. Cable, as a nearby landowner, can continue the rezoning challenge in court, the judge said.
Hyperion spokesman Eric Williams was not immediately available for comment, but said in a written statement to the Sioux City Journal: "We know the experts at DENR have worked long and hard on this project and, like everybody else, we're eager to see the department's draft of the air permit once it's released. We encourage folks to review and comment on the draft, as that's an important part of this process."
The Hyperion Energy Center in Union County would process 400,000 barrels of Canadian crude oil daily into gasoline and diesel fuel. It would include an Integrated Gasification Combined Cycle power plant that would turn a byproduct of the refining process into hydrogen, steam and electricity to power the refinery.
According to Hyperion's application, the center each year would emit nearly 2,000 tons of carbon monoxide, 773 tons of nitrogen oxides, more than 1,000 tons of particulate matter, 863 tons of sulfur dioxide and 473 tons of volatile organic compounds.
"(the) review of this facility indicates Hyperion can construct and operate in compliance with the state and federal air quality requirements established to protect public health and the environment," DENR said.
The complex would be located on nearly 3,300 acres north of Elk Point and would be the first new U.S. oil refinery in more than 30 years.
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