Energy Dependence, One NIMBY Lawsuit at a Time

By March 21, 2008Energy

From the southeast corner of South Dakota::

The Union County Commission’s decision to re-zone land for an oil refinery was a big step forward for Hyperion Resources. But now groups on both sides of the issue are taking action on that decision….[snip]

But while the group supporting the refinery project was at the Union county courthouse Thursday to file petitions to refer the county commission’s zoning decision to a public vote. The group opposing the project was there to file a lawsuit against those same commissioners.

Ed Cable with Save Union County says, “The planning and zoning commission, and the board of commissioners did not properly follow the Union county ordinance.”

Actually, despite the usual manifestation of Not in My Backyard litigiousness, this is a generally positive development. Hyperion Resources saw sufficient profit potential to embark on a $10 billion refinery project — got that? $10 billion! — and the Union County Board of Commissioners voted 5-0 in support. Governor Rounds has said positive things about the project, and it’s supporters who think the democratic petition process works in favor of the new plant.

And in North Dakota, there’s serious discussion of a new refinery being built, as well.

Could the political and economic landscape be shifting, making new construction again possible? The last new oil refinery built in the United States was completed in 1976. The Marathon Ashland’s Garyville, La., plant is now being expanded, the only way that new domestic capacity has been added in the last three decades.

P.S. Slate had a pretty good nuts-and-bolts explanatory story on the lack of new refineries back in 2004.

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