Costarella says “Frack on” after ban was turned down

Well, it’s official — again.

We will frack in the city of Youngs-town.

The Community Bill of Rights amendment to the city charter was defeated in May by 13.7 percent and again in November by 9.7 percent. Even though the gap narrowed a bit on the second election, it is clear the city and region will embrace the oil and natural-gas industry’s expansion in the coming years.

In a sense, they have said, “Frack On!”

This month, I take a look at a piece of legislation that is being proposed in the Ohio General Assembly that adds to the strategy of expanding the usage of a “local” product — natural gas.

In November, state Reps. Sean J. O’Brien of Brookfield, D-63rd, and Dave Hall, R-Millersburg, introduced legislation that would provide tax incentives for entities that buy or convert vehicles to compressed natural gas, establish a sales-tax reduction for those who purchase electric vehicles and create a five-year phase-in of a motor vehicle fuel tax on compressed natural gas that will match the current tax on gas and diesel.

“Ohio is well behind other states when it comes to CNG,” O’Brien said. “It’s particularly frustrating when you consider we have the Marcellus and Utica shale plays here in Ohio, yet we are currently doing little to take advantage of our resources.”

This bill attempts to make Ohio more competitive in the market for alternative transportation fuels. States around the country are incentivizing alternative fuels, including Ohio’s neighboring states — Indiana, Pennsylvania and West Virginia — which recently have passed similar incentive programs.

“The shale play in southeast Ohio gives us an enormous advantage over other states, but unlike our neighbors to the East and West, we aren’t fully harnessing the potential of natural gas after it has been developed,” Hall said. “This bill puts Ohio on par with everyone else.”

Under O’Brien and Hall’s proposal, the incentives would be self-funded by current oil and gas taxes on Ohio companies. In addition, the grant and incentive programs would be phased out after a five-year period.

“We believe the government may help to start this process,” O’Brien said. “However, it is ultimately up to the private sector and market forces to dictate the future of alternative fuels in Ohio.”

When you look back at the past 40 years of energy policies, we see high fluctuation in pricing.

There are often limited supplies due to foreign oil producers that manipulate the commodity, as well as an over-reliance on nonfriendly nations for our energy.

Past policies aimed at alternative energy, such as solar and wind, have not been able to meet our nation’s energy needs, and they remain decades away from being a completely viable energy source.

This new legislation follows efforts to transition fleets to natural-gas power elsewhere in the U.S. Some projects are private and some government.

For example, Lowe’s recently launched a natural gas-powered truck fleet at a regional distribution center in Texas.

Lowe’s is working with carriers to transition all regional distribution- center-dedicated fleets to natural gas by the end of 2017.

For additional information on the growing use of natural-gas-powered vehicle fleets, the Natural Gas Vehicles for America has been created. A wealth of related information may be found at the website,

Natural gas as one of a number of sources of distributed energy sources is a reasonable approach to re-defining our nation’s energy policy, and this legislation proposed by O’Brien and Hall is one of many ways to incentivize the use of a product all around us.

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