We've moved!

Social Icons

twitterfacebooklinkedinrss feed

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Union County Losing Jobs: Hyperion Refinery Worth It?

Mr. Epp offers a worthwhile reminder that, for all of his good work covering (and questioning) Hyperion, he still goes back and forth on whether a big oil refinery would ultimately be a good thing for Elk Point. The April 2009 Rural Life Census Data Center newsletter from SDSU provides another reminder why the Hyperion refinery is not the black-and-white issue I often portray it as. For every good person who believes saving Union County means keeping Hyperion out, there are other good people who believe saving Union County means finding an employer who can bring back the almost 1,800 private-sector jobs Union County has lost since 2002. According to the RLCDC report (p. 2), Union County's private industry jobs dropped from 10,131 in 2002 to 8,344 in 2008. That's a 17.6% drop, the fifth largest in South Dakota.

(Custer County leads job losses over that period, losing 55.1% of its private-sector jobs. Where'd everybody go—Rapid City? But come on: even Butte, Meade, and Shannon showed double-digit percentage job growth. Weird!)

But the statistical picture is confusing. Don't forget that Union County includes golf-course-turned-municipality Dakota Dunes ("master planned community"—isn't that like the Soviet Union?). The county has still seen 10.9% population growth during this decade, and median household income is $56,951, 131% of the state median and the second highest in the state. So if all the jobs went to Vermillion and Sioux City, at least they appear to be pretty well-paying jobs... but enough to cover $4-a-gallon gas when it comes back for the daily commute?

It's complicated. Unlike Senator Thune, I believe we do need to think of indirect costs when we look at big policy questions, in this case, local economic development. If Union County has lost 1,800 jobs and they're trying to get them back, it does give me a little pause to look at them from three counties over and tell them they should turn down 1,800 permanent jobs and other indirect employment that the refinery could bring...

...assuming, as Mr. Epp reminds us, that Hyperion can even build a refinery, let along operate one in the black.


  1. Hey people i hate to bust your bubble, but you are not reading or listening to what Hyperion is saying. let me tell it like it is.

    of the 1800 permanent jobs, preston phillips is on record as stating that 80% will be imported because we do not have the necessary management or refinery skills. that leaves 360 jobs for people within a 100 mile radius fighting to fill those slots. he never said there would be 1800 permanent jobs for people in this area.

    what part of this don't you understand? if you take the time to see what hyperion is touting, you will realize this is nothing but a big joke....ask me, i live here.

  2. Mr. Maurstad, don't worry: those facts won't burst my bubble! But we need to keep laying those facts out to make sure people aren't lured by the promise of big job gains that aren't as big as they sound.

  3. What about the public-health impacts? What good do new jobs do when people get sick from polluted air and polluted water? I know Hyperion loves to claim it will be "green," but if that's so, why did they object to using better pollution controls? (Check out their letters in regard to the air pollution permit.)

  4. Kelly, I hope folks will be able to look past immediate job offers to see those long-term effects.


Comments are closed, as this portion of the Madville Times is in archive mode. You can join the discussion of current issues at MadvilleTimes.com.

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.