YOUNGSTOWN - City Council delayed a vote Wednesday on leasing city-owned property for drilling for natural gas and oil.
Opponents argued during a finance committee meeting held just before the full council meeting that the city should delay its decision until after the EPA completes a report on potential dangers.
"With the proliferation of fracking and class II injection wells in Ohio, it is imperative that we have the most timely and accurate research at our disposal,'' state Rep. Bob Hagan, D-Youngs-town, wrote in a letter to council.
''Indeed, we have already felt the ground shake beneath our feet from the earthquakes caused by injection wells, and so we must proceed with the utmost caution and vigilance in order to best protect our families, communities and environment.''
Mayor Chuck Sammarone told the opponents to the city's efforts to sell mineral rights to gas companies that the money they would receive would help the city tear down vacant houses.
"I discussed it with our finance director, he thought it could be done. I discussed it with all council members a month ago, and they thought it was a good idea," Sammarone said.
A number of people who showed up at the council meeting disagreed. One person was dragged out by security and charged with disorderly conduct. Others were cheering loudly for several speakers, including Hagan.
"There's danger in poisoning the water,'' Hagan told council members. ''There's danger in hurting our environment. There's danger in hurting the morale of the people, and I think you should just move slower.''
Sammarone said, "Mr. Hagan, if you want to help us, get us money! That's what we need in the city of Youngstown, money!''
Council voted to put the land lease ordinance to a second reading.
Councilman Mike Ray, D-4th, ''Some things like this, though, having some debate on the floor, which we don't always do because it's a hot topic. I think we need to have that transparency in government.''
In his letter, Hagan said the EPA has been directed to conduct scientific research to examine the relationship between fracking and contamination of drinking water resources.
Proponents of drilling maintain that there isn't any correlation, and that this type of drilling has been going on for decades without contamination problems.
Hagan said, "The report will be wholly comprehensive, studying the chemical make-up of brine, the impact of the actual fracturing process and subsequent injection well disposal.
''The EPA will release its preliminary finding in late 2012, with the final report due out in 2014.''
WYTV 33 News contributed to this report.