Proposed hyperion oil refinery doubles methane estimates

Methane emissions estimates increased twofold for the proposed tar sands oil refinery in Elk Point, S.D., which is near the South Dakota-Iowa border. (Photo: The City of Elk Point, SD.)

If it is ever built, it will be dirtier.

Texas-based Hyperion Refining LLC has altered its methane emission estimates on its proposed 400,000 barrel-a-day tar sands oil plant near the Iowa-South Dakota border.

It had previously omitted details about part of the refining process, reports the Sioux City Journal.

The company now expects the refinery to produce alsost twice as much methane – 980 tons per year instead of 498. That is significant, because as the Sioux City Journal reports:

Methane, an odorless gas, is considered a more potent greenhouse gas, trapping heat in the atmosphere at a rate 20 times greater than carbon dioxide over a 100-year period, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Hyperion said it had inadvertently left coke drum steam vents out of its original estimates to the South Dakota Department of Environment and Natural Resources. Continue reading

IEF Exclusive: Despite high emotions, tar sands refinery near Iowa border far from realized

Pristine Elk Point, SD is the site of a cross-state dispute over an oil refinery that may not be built for years, if at all. (Photo: The City of Elk Point, SD.)

By Jim Malewitz

Elk Point was never in the spotlight before. But for three years, this quiet South Dakota town of just 750 families and a handful of restaurants has become the focal point in a dispute over a proposed 400,000 barrel-a-day tar sands oil refinery.

It would be the first tar sands plant built the United States since 1976.

Proposed by Dallas-based Hyperion LLC, the refinery has spurred an ideological clash between those hoping to add jobs to a still stagnant economy and those concerned about the health of the near pristine environment of this town, just 15 miles Southwest of Sioux City, and its nearby national parks and recreation areas.

Tar sands is an extra dark, heavy oil that researchers like Scott Spak, at the University of Iowa Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research, call “absolutely filthy.” Hyperion has said the refinery will use new technology that will limit emissions.

Disagreements over the proposal haven’t been confined to Elk Point or surrounding Union County, where 58 percent of voters approved a zoning ordinance that set aside 3,292 acres of land for the Hyperion refinery. Bickering over the refinery has crept across the border into Iowa and into the rhetoric of lawmakers, and was heightened by the recent midterm elections.

But a review of documents on Hyperion’s permitting process show that the refinery likely won’t be built for years, if at all. Since announcing Elk Point as a finalist for the refinery in June 2007, Hyperion has received just one of seven major permits required for its operation, and even that permit is tenuous. Continue reading