COLUMBUS -- State Senators Joe Schiavoni (D-Boardman) and Frank LaRose (R-Copley) announced today they are introducing legislation to impose tougher penalties for the illegal dumping of waste from oil and gas drilling.
The bipartisan legislation is in response to federal charges filed this week against a Youngstown company accused of dumping brine into a tributary of the Mahoning River.
Related: Feds charge NE Ohio man in wastewater dumping case
The bill would 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.
The legislation 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.
"This legislation sends a clear message that the disregard of our state's oil and gas laws will result in a punishment that is severe," said Senator Schiavoni.
"There is too much at stake regarding both the benefit to our economy and the risk to our environment for our laws to reflect anything but toughness."
"Growing industries such as oil and gas have tremendous opportunity to create jobs and spur our economy, but we must balance those interests with the health and safety of Ohioans and our natural resources," Senator LaRose said.
"This legislation puts into place tough penalties for unscrupulous operators like those in Youngstown who choose to endanger the environment and people's health."