A Summit County councilman is pushing a proposal to require county workers and contractors to use only biodegradable oil in chain saws and other outdoor power equipment.

The change would help the environment by reducing both ground and air pollution, Councilman Bill Roemer said.

“There’s no disadvantage to this,” he said.

But his proposal is being resisted by many of his colleagues, who say the measure would be unenforceable and they don’t see the need.

Instead, they are proposing that the county pass a resolution encouraging people to use biodegradable oil, as opposed to making it a requirement for county workers and its contractors.

Roemer got the idea after using a chain saw on some trees on his property in Richfield and noticing an oil sheen on the river where he was working.

“Every ounce of chain oil goes on the ground someplace,” he said.

He then started using biodegradable oil. It costs a little more — about $7 more a gallon — but has greater viscosity and lasts longer, meaning it saves money in the long run, he said.

It also wouldn’t be a major hassle for the county to make the change, he said. The engineer’s office used only four gallons of chain oil last year.

Several council members spoke against the measure at a recent meeting.

Councilman Nick Kostandaras questioned how it would affect small businesses.

And Councilman John Schmidt wondered what would happen if the county had to hire a company in an emergency and it didn’t have biodegradable oil in its equipment.

“It seems to be a little cumbersome and a little unworkable,” Schmidt said.

Roemer said he’s not in favor of a toothless resolution from council and would continue to try to educate his fellow council members about the issue.

Meanwhile, County Executive Russ Pry’s administration and County Engineer Al Brubaker support requiring county workers to use biodegradable oil.

The engineer has already started using it, spokeswoman Heidi Swindell said. The only concern is whether the county could require the same of contractors who do state- or federally funded projects, she said.

Jason Dodson, Pry’s chief of staff, said the county executive would consider issuing an executive order that employees use biodegradable oil if the council doesn’t approve the legislation.

Rick Armon can be reached at 330-996-3569 or rarmon@thebeaconjournal.com.