COLUMBUS– State Representative Robert F. Hagan (D-Youngstown) announced today that he has introduced legislation to impose tougher penalties for the illegal dumping of waste from oil and gas drilling. The bill’s introduction follows the federal indictment of Mr. Ben Lupo, owner of local oil and gas company Hardrock Excavating, who directed employees to illegally dump hundreds of gallons of brine and oil into waterways leading to the Mahoning River.
“Ohio’s oil and gas laws need to reflect the seriousness with which we regard both the health of our communities and our environment,” said Rep. Hagan. “This legislation serves as warning that we will not sacrifice our safety and well-being for industry profit.”
House Bill 93, introduced this week, will stiffen the criminal penalties for violating state oil and gas law relating to the improper disposal, transport and management of brine so the punishment matches federal law. The legislation would also require the state to revoke and deny future permits to any individual or company convicted of illegal dumping.
“Companies that recklessly disregard our environmental laws should not be allowed to continue doing business in the state of Ohio.” Rep. Hagan said. “In this instance, the perpetrator had racked up at least 120 violations across two states, yet somehow was still operating right in our backyard. That can no longer be permitted.”
The bill, which will serve as companion legislation to Senate Bill 46 – sponsored by Senators Schiavoni and Larose – elevates the crime to a felony and imposes a minimum sentence of three years in prison and a $10,000 fine for anyone who knowingly violates the law. Additional convictions would carry a six year minimum sentence and a $25,000 fine.