Hagan pushing bills after Youngstown brine dump

A bill expanding the requirements for gas and oil well drillers in Ohio to report chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing languished in a House committee last year, but now it’s back among a handful of proposed regulations since oilfield waste was dumped in a storm drain in Youngstown.

Democrat state Rep. Bob Hagan has resurrected what’s known as the ”medical right-to-know bill,” and he’s planning to drop two more control bills this week, too.

The right-to-know bill would obligate well owners to disclose to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources all chemical information used to stimulate and drill a well to make sure first responders ”know exactly what those chemicals are in cases they were impacted or affected by those chemicals,” Hagan said.

”It’s appropriate given the fact that we’re on day 11 (Monday) and we still don’t know what chemicals were dumped in the river,” Hagan said.

Documents show on Jan. 31, an employee of Hardrock Excavating LLC, 2761 Salt Springs Road, Youngstown, dumped brine and crude oil waste into the storm sewer at the direction of Ben Lupo, owner of Hardrock Excavating.

Since, the oilfield waste disposal permits for two of Lupo’s companies, Hardrock Excavating and D&L Energy, also of 2761 Salt Springs Road, have been permanently revoked by the state and some, like Hagan, have called for Lupo to be criminally charged.

The cleanup is being overseen jointly by the U.S. and Ohio environmental protection agencies.

The bill would expand how medical professionals can get to the chemical information they need to treat patients and broadens the reasons why a doctor can ask for this information.

Expected to be formally introduced today, it will include vertical wells, Hagan said. In the last General Assembly, House Bill 596 dealt only with horizontal wells.

Other measures that should be ready for introduction this week are proposals to set Ohio’s gas and oil severance tax at 7 percent and increase the penalty and fine in Ohio for the illegal dumping of chemicals, Hagan said.

Some of the proposed 7 percent would be set aside for local communities to repair road and bridge damage caused by drilling-related activity. Another portion would be used to hire more inspectors, Hagan said.

The severance tax proposal in Ohio Gov. John Kasich’s budget is 1 percent for natural gas and 4 percent for oil and liquid natural gas, but there would be a lower rate of 1.5 percent in the first year of production.

Ohio now has a nominal severance tax of 3 cents per a thousand cubic feet (mcf) for natural gas and 20 cents a barrel.