A press release from state Rep. Robert Hagan, D-Youngstown:

COLUMBUS–Mr. Ben Lupo, the man responsible for illegally dumping hundreds of thousands of gallons of brine and oil into the Mahoning River, was indicted today by a federal grand jury for violating the Clean Water Act. State Representative Robert F. Hagan (D-Youngstown) heralded the indictment as an important step towards ensuring justice is served in one of the most egregious cases of pollution in recent memory, but questioned why an individual with a checkered history was permitted to do drilling related business in Ohio.

 “I am buoyed by the news of the indictment of Mr. Lupo, and am encouraged by the ongoing legal prosecution,” Rep. Hagan said. “However, as reassuring as the indictment against Mr. Lupo may be to some, the question must still be raised of how this individual was allowed to continue operating oil and gas related ventures after multiple citations.”

D&L Energy, one of many companies under Lupo’s ownership, has a history of at least 120 violations at 32 injection and extraction wells across Ohio and Pennsylvania stemming from citations levied by environmental regulators for failing to display a permit or contaminating water and soil, among other transgressions. In addition, archival records from the Youngstown Vindicator show that Lupo and his companies have been accused before, but were able escape with no convictions and small fines, and continue oil and gas operations in Ohio.

“The fact that Mr. Lupo was able to continue operating after repeated environmental violations is beyond puzzling -- it’s downright terrifying,” Rep. Hagan said. “Quite frankly, this incidentraises serious questions regarding the cozy relationship the oil and gas industry in Ohio shares with the state agencies that are responsible for overseeing the expanding drilling operations in our state.”