By Karl Henkel
State Rep. Ronald V. Gerberry of Austintown, D-59th, has introduced legislation that would tax fracking wastewater- recycling operations to offset infrastructure wear-and-tear from the oil and gas industry.
“Brine-recycling facilities can be hard on local infrastructure,” Gerberry said. “Townships and counties don’t have the resources to deal with additional costs like worn-out roads resulting from increased traffic. This bill will assist them in generating needed revenue to cover these increased expenses.”
He said he drafted the proposal because of rumors about new recycling facilities coming to the Valley.
Under the new legislation, counties, townships or municipal corporations where brine-recycling facilities are located could impose a 17.5 cents-per- barrel tax on recycled brine.
A township and county could impose the tax, which would then total 35 cents per barrel.
Gerberry told The Vindicator that rate is proportional to taxes imposed on landfills.
The only fracking wastewater site in the Valley currently is Patriot Water Treatment LLC in Warren, which as of Sunday is barred from sending treated wastewater to Warren.
Patriot does not pay the state’s “brine tax,” which levies a 5-cent-per-barrel fee on brine originating in-state and a 20-cent-per-barrel fee on out-of-state brine.
A proposed recycling facility in Mahoning County has not yet been announced.
Oklahoma City-based Chesapeake Energy Corp. has a recycling system in Carrollton.
It is not known how local governments could tax recycled brine since that data is not tracked by the state.
Gerberry said tracking all brine is a topic that will be addressed should the legislation be discussed in committee.
Chesapeake did not have a comment on Gerberry’s proposed tax.
In Mahoning and Trumbull counties, the engineer’s offices have developed road-maintenance agreements with drilling companies to pay for road repairs and infrastructure updates.
Marilyn Kenner, chief deputy engineer in Mahoning County, has repeatedly said the business relationship between the county and the drilling companies has worked so far, and does not want to see state-mandated road- maintenance agreements take effect.