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Dumping Incident Spurs New Regulations on Oil and Gas Drillers

Tuesday, February 19, 2013 at 5:11 PM

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A drilling rig in Jackson Township, Mahoning County.

The recent dumping of 20-thousand gallons of drilling waste water in Youngstown has triggered two lawmakers to draft stronger rules for the oil and gas industry. Ideastream’s Michelle Kanu reports the measure already has support from both sides of the political aisle.

Last week, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine called on legislators to stiffen penalties for any oil and gas company that blatantly breaks Ohio’s rules.

Now, Democratic state senator Joe Schiavoni is following through on the AG’s appeal.

Schiavoni says he and Republican state senator Frank LaRose proposed a new bill the day they learned the feds were stepping in prosecute the Youngstown case.

Schiavoni: “Senator LaRose and I felt that it was timely to get it out, to get a bill number on it, to get it in a committee, and we can amend it as we go.”

Senate Bill 46 would hike penalties for illegally transporting, handling, or dumping waste water from the drilling and fracking process.  That would make Ohio law match federal fines and jail time for such violations.  The bill would also require the state to revoke operating permits for any company convicted of illegal dumping.

Schiavoni says he’s hopeful the measure will pass because it appeals to the two biggest groups that often clash over Ohio’s shale development.

Schiavoni: “This helps both the environmental council and the oil and gas industry because it’s saying that as an industry they don’t want folks to be violating the law and if they do, they want those people to be punished and to be punished harshly.”

Schiavoni says the bill now moves through committee hearings before going to the senate floor for a vote.

Meanwhile, the owner of the company accused of dumping fracking waste last month faces up to three years in prison and a 250-thousand dollar fine for violating the federal Clean Water Act.

Tags

Energy, Shale, Government/Politics

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