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Monday, December 14, 2009

USD Student Project: Hyperion Refinery Not Sustainable

...but USD Math Dept. Cringes at Bad Pollution Math

Old Cranky brings to our attention a Vermillion Plain Talk report about a new assessment of the proposed Hyperion oil refinery in Union County. The assessors: a team of undergrads from the University of South Dakota. The assessment: on four out of five criteria, a big oil refinery near Elk Point is not a sustainable project.

The students are part of IDEA 410, a capstone course in USD's Interdisciplinary Education and Action program. Various sections of the course tackle various issues. This section—titled "Wall Street & Ethics: Do Social Justice, Community, and Sustainability Cost Too Much?"— is apparently taught by USD School of Business Professor Gregory M. Huckabee. And if he can get his kids to do research like this, then I do indeed heart Huckabee!

The students analyzed the Hyperion refinery proposal through a framework of criteria presented in Jared Diamond's Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed. Writes VPT's David Lias:

Diamond believes that societies can be determined to be sustainable, or not, by applying five criteria to specific circumstances. These criteria are: environmental damage, climate change, loss of friendly contacts, rise of hostile contacts, and political, economic, social and cultural setting.

The students told aldermen that only the final criteria – political, economic, social and cultural setting – could be deemed sustainable [David Lias, "USD Students: Hyperion Is Not Sustainable," Vermillion Plain Talk, 2009.12.11].

The students identify various problems like the 9 to 12 million gallons of water the refinery would slurp out of everyone's milkshake daily and the 19.6 million tons of pollutants the refinery would belch out in return each year.

The USD students noted in their presentation that some individuals, including Gov. Mike Rounds, argue the emissions from this plant will only be 32 percent of what is currently emitted from Sioux Falls [Lias, 2009.12.11].

The Governor said that? Really?! Hang on, kids: five points off for botching the numbers. According to the South Dakota Department of Environment and Natural Resources (which, interestingly, actually uses exclamation points to explain itself in this Q&A sheet on Hyperion), the proposed refinery would emit a mass of air pollutants equal to 7% of the pollution emitted by everyone in Minnehaha County.

While the kids sign up for spreadsheet lessons, I still would like to ask: since when is it o.k. for one person (and remember, under our twisted laws, a corporation like Hyperion is a "person") to emit as much air pollution as nearly 13,000 people?

Now I think I hear the indigestion burbling up from my conservative friends: bad enough the kids can't run Excel, but they take classes at a public university to promote their liberal tree-hugging (well, cornfield-hugging) agenda? When my conservative friends read the theme of the interdisciplinary program—"Liberal Learning: Students in a Global Community"—they'll lob all sorts of New World Order critiques.

I do find it interesting that these students giving Hyperion a studious thumbs-down are the business school kids. (The hippies at USD are all in theater, right? ;-) ) They didn't just look at the immediate short-term profit; they took the long view, all the way to the boreal forest that has to be torn down and the ducks that get killed to get at the tar sands oil Hyperion would process, the dirtiest oil in the world. Even USD B-school students can recognize that oil like that isn't worth the trouble.


  1. This has got to be one of the most asinine pieces of BS I've ever heard of.

    What kind of socialist malarkey is "friendly contacts" and "hostile contacts"? Is that the over-educated, elitists way of saying "people that like you" and "people that don't like you"?

    If so, it goes without saying that anti-American malcontents like yourself will never be friendly toward anything that strengthens our nation.

    This nutty piece of psychobabble seems to boil down to one statement: A new refinery isn't "sustainable" (which is itself a term of environmentalist psychobabble misdirection) because we the environmentalists don't like it.

    As I've long said, anyone who worries about what small-minded people who are opposed to your best interest aren't worth listening to anyway.

    I really do wish you and your socialist friends would go find some other country to ruin; there are plenty of them out there who are eager to embrace your kind of counterproductive nonsense.

    But of course, you like all the bennies American life provides...while loathing the very attributes of our way of life that make those benefits possible. And you're too obtuse to even realize you're cutting your own throat along with everyone else's.

    People are waking up to what a loser's agenda you socialists are pushing, though. It won't be long before you find your foolish ideas on the ash heap of history's failed ideas, and yourself sitting there with them sulking while the rest of us get this nation back on track to the greatness and goodness that has always been its destiny.

  2. Funny that, no matter how loathsome I find Bob's rhetoric and messiah complex and whatever else comes burbling out his little head, I never waste my breath wishing he would move out of my country. Why do conservatives like feel compelled to try kicking people out of "their" America, as if people just like them are the only ones with a legitimate claim to patriotism and citizenship, and people who disagree have no place in America?

    You really should get on as a guest lecturer at USD, Bob, and straighten out all those kids and their darned psychobabbling socialist anti-American professors with their loser agendae. Because we all know the only reason anyone would oppose turning farmland into an oil refinery is that they hate America.

  3. Steve Sibson12/14/2009 9:30 PM


    Did you see my post today on Howard Zinn? If you did, then you would know that Bob is right.

    And tomorrow you will need to check out my Obamanomics post. You college professors need to understand that you are carrying water for those you hate.

  4. [Steve, didn't you say earlier that the grassroots don't nee visibility? If so, then why do you keep coming over here with comment spam to flog your own cut-and-paste blog? Again, get on topic. I offered more direct and specific criticism of the USD students' presentation than either of you did. You and Bob just keep singing in the shower with the same boilerplate rhetoric.]

  5. Sorry Cory, but II need more context in order to answer you question regarding grassroots.

    I am not going to respond to your personal attack regarding my web site. I am trying to let stuff like that go. It ends up being nonproductive.

    I do want to respond to your charge that I was off point. An educated person knows that the world “sustainable” is a buzzword for socialism. That is what Bob was talking about, and I was defending his point of view by bringing forward Howard Zinn who is now using the education system to promote his socialism. So I am not surprised at USD promoting it too. I went to school at USD and studied a lot of economics. I never even heard of Austrian economics until I read Woods’ Meltdown after seeing him on Glenn Beck. Sad that the other side of Keynsian economics is neglected by the USD Business School. I was on point. I am not sure, but perhaps you were using that as a red herring in order to avoid dealing with a particular point of view.

    If the education establishment would allow the other point of view, then the truth would have a chance. But your personal attacks are demonstrations of what academia does when people like Bob and I try to bring the other point of view...and that is God’s point of view, or what Natural Law is all about. Sad that people like you, Badlands Blue, and Pat Powers resort to shaming those you disagree with in order to win political games. But I am not going to let myself to become shamed into silence. And as I said earlier, I do not want to respond in kind, as difficult as that is to avoid.

  6. Context: last month (?) I think I posted about you Tea Partiers' need to get your act together, field some viable candidates, and run a real campaign for change instead of getting together for feel-good Glenn-Beck sing-alongs. You replied that grassroots groups don't need to build visibility. Your comments here strike me as a regular effort to raise your visibility... since they all too often aren't an effort to respond to the actual points being made here. Again, these aren't personal attacks. I don't denigrate your manhood the way you and Bob like to do. I challenge the quality of your text and your arguments.

    Austria -- yeah, there's a world power for you. ;-)

    Sibby, the education establishment -- at least the one I'm part of -- allows "the other point of view" all the time. But entertaining "the other point of view" does not oblige me to accept non sequiturs, red herrings, and just plain wrong ideas.

  7. "But entertaining "the other point of view" does not oblige me to accept non sequiturs, red herrings, and just plain wrong ideas."

    Thanks for personally attacking me again. But when you refuse to read something, just because it is from WND, hardly qualifies you as one who entertains the other point of view. That is why who have no idea what Austrian economics is all about. It has very little to do with Austria, other than the founders lived their until Hilter chased them out for not agreeing with his National Socialism. Von Mises then came to America and got no better reception form America's universities. So go ahead and call those truths "non sequiturs, red herrings, and just plain wrong ideas". Those truths again support Bob Ellis's point about your amd your professor friends' socialist agenda.

    Because you refuse to even look at Austrian economics is why you don't have a clue about the other side of the Keynsian economic worldview. Don't insult me by claiming that you are at all interested in other points of view.

  8. Steve Sibson12/17/2009 6:30 AM


    I just put up a post this morning that details my point of view. I hope you will take it seriously. I do want my work and research to be constructive.


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