Reps. Holmes, O’Brien introduce bill to increase funding to local communities

COLUMBUS— State Reps. Glenn W. Holmes (D-Girard) and Mike O’Brien (D-Warren) today announced the introduction of House Bill (HB) 578, which would reallocate to local governments nearly 40 percent of fees paid by outside companies to store fracking wastewater in Ohio injection wells.

“All we are asking for is that ODNR and the injection well industry be good community partners in dealing with this very sensitive issue,” said Holmes. “We think it is only fair that the community see some type of remediation for the impacts of dumping in our communities. Furthermore, we need to explore the technologies to stop the need for injection wells altogether.”

Under the proposal, 37.5 percent of out-of-district injection well fees would be redirected to the local municipalities and townships housing the wells. In addition, HB 578 changes the injection well setback requirement to 300 feet. Currently, the Oil and Gas division of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources monitors injection wells and receives all payments from out-of-district entities.

“This legislation will redirect fees to the communities that have been adversely affected by this industry; and a 300 foot setback is a more aesthetically appropriate setback,” said O’Brien.

The impact of injection wells on local areas include ecological contamination, noise and excessive wear and tear on roads, as well as other costs incurred by communities surrounding the wells. In recent years, issues arose from injection wells, such as a 2011 earthquake in the Youngstown area and the Vienna Township spill in 2015.

Rep. Holmes also announced he will join Brookfield Township residents at a community rally today, Thursday, April 5 at 5:30 pm at the Township Center Green to raise opposition to several proposed injection wells in the area.

HB 578 is currently awaiting committee assignment in the Ohio House, where it will see its initial hearings.

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