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Youngstown council to weigh fracking resolution


Published: Fri, September 14, 2012 @ 12:08 a.m.

By David Skolnick

skolnick@vindy.com

YOUNGSTOWN

The mayor is asking city council to support a resolution urging the state to have “stringent regulations” on fracking while also seeking council’s approval to sell the city’s mineral rights.

Mayor Charles Sammarone’s resolution calls for the city to support oil and gas drilling, as permitted by the state, as long as Ohio officials “respect local concerns by protecting the citizens of Youngstown through stringent and effective regulation, and immediately respond to any and all inquiries from city of Youngstown government officials.”

Council will consider the resolution and the mineral-rights proposal at its next meeting, 5:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Sammarone said state officials have done a good job keeping city officials informed about fracking issues in Youngstown since the Dec. 31 earthquake here that led to the state’s closing a brine-injection well in the city and a temporary ban on those wells.

“In the beginning, the state wasn’t receptive to our complaints but has since stepped in and put a stop to the problems,” he said.

When asked to comment on Sammarone’s resolution, Heidi Hetzel-Evans, a spokeswoman for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, said: “The ODNR has been busy the last few months developing rules and regulations on oil and gas drilling and inspecting well disposals.”

Some of the new rules, including requiring seismic testing near injection wells, came about because of the earthquakes in Youngstown, she said.

“Ohio has one of the strictest oil and gas [policies] in the country,” Hetzel-Evans said.

Because the state has control over licensing fracking — a process in which water, chemicals and sand are blasted into rocks thousands of feet below the ground to unlock natural gas and oil — Sammarone said the resolution is equivalent to sending a “letter” to Ohio officials.

The mayor says he tells fracking protesters that objecting in the city and speaking at council meetings doesn’t help their cause because the state makes decisions on drilling.

“They’re wasting their time here; go picket Columbus to change the state law,” Sammarone said.

If the mayor could control all laws in the city, he said he’d make the Covelli Centre a casino, reinstitute residency requirements for city employees and have control over the renewal of liquor licenses.

Also, Sammarone said he’ll ask council at its Wednesday meeting to permit the administration to sell its mineral rights to raise more money for demolition and neighborhood improvement projects.

There are 1,070 dilapidated residential structures in the city that need to be demolished now — and about 3,900 vacant houses in Youngstown — and the $2 million the city is using for demolition will take down only about 270 structures, he said.


Comments

1Attis(920 comments)posted 2 years, 3 months ago

Since it was hit by a series of earthquakes caused by the injecting fracking-generated toxic wastewater into Mother Earth, Youngstown should be on the front line in opposing fracking injection wells. Instead these political prostitutes welcome the mother earth frackers into our community. "The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil" (God).

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2ytownsteelman(631 comments)posted 2 years, 3 months ago

Attis, you are ignorant of the facts. Selling the mineral rights will not result in injection wells, but rather extraction wells. I think this is a very good move on the part of the mayor as we do have a very big problem with abandoned houses that has to be addressed. This is the only opportunity to come along in the thirty five years to put a large dent in this problem. I am glad to see that the mayor wants to use the bonus payments to make long term improvements to the city instead of blowing it on pay raises or remodeling city hall. The fears of polluting water wells are unfounded if you look at the facts and disregard the propaganda. People like you used to rally behind DIMOCK, but why don't you do that any more? Hmmmm???

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3UticaShale(854 comments)posted 2 years, 3 months ago

Finally a Mayor with intelligence and rationale. He knows the difference between horizontal drilling and injection wells. Telling all 30 local protestors to go to Columbus in their gas guzzling vehicles or belching buses is a statement about their hypocracy. The Mayor has computed the numbers and now knows that because the entire City is on top of the Utica wet gas zone, every acre in the City is worth as much as an acre in the suburbs and rural areas, $5000 to $6000 an acre. This is just the signing bonus. Once drilling takes place, the City will potentially receive $1000 an acre per month for 30 to 50 years in royalties.

The Mayor must also realize now that with this new value of City land, property taxes will be paid and money will flow for demolition.

It takes approximately 10 City lots to equal 1 acre and with an average demo house for every two acres, the math works very well. The only wild card in the City is for the new landbank and Yemma to get educated and begin utilizing the new State legislature to clear all abandoned parcels in 45 days.

The tools are now in place to return Youngstown into a great industrial center.

But here is a warning, the City and energy giants must not lease the City's old landbank reutilization parcels. They as intended must be offered to the people for development and to generate property taxes of which they have not generated under the City for decades. The release of these acres will spark a massive investment into the City by investors from all over the region. Who ever thought the value of City abandoned land where the only use was illegal dumping of garbage and carcases would one day be worth as much as an acre in Canfield.

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4Bigben(1996 comments)posted 2 years, 3 months ago

It would be a very very bad move to sell the mineral rights. Dilapidated buildings will come down through grant funds. Potentially, poisoning the land , air and water and therefore people sure isn't something I would want on my conscience. Mayor you do have control , control over whether or not to sell those mineral rights. It isn't worth it.

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5Bigben(1996 comments)posted 2 years, 3 months ago

Yeah everyone will flock to own land in a city that has been fracked. Equating fracked city land in Youngstown with land in Canfield is absurd and an insult to the intelligence of this community. Canfield land will probably be worth less down the road to due to nearby fracking.

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6James_S(268 comments)posted 2 years, 3 months ago

Fracking the whole city of Youngstown isn't a wise idea.

Sure if Youngstown sells its mineral rights they'll make their cherished $$$MONEY$$$ from it.

I can see it now: while their fracking is going on, the earthquakes resulting from it will demolish the remaining buildings, the homes, the Covelli Center... providing more land to frack and make $$$MONEY$$$ on.....

(It's THEIR $$$MONEY$$$, not yours)

(It's THEIR CONGRESS, not yours)

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7commoncitizen(961 comments)posted 2 years, 3 months ago

Attis, it's ignorant people like YOU that complain about something they know nothing about. You talk aboput injection wells and fracking like they are the same ---they are not!!! check your facts BEFORE you complain.

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