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Ohio U.S. Senator J.D. Vance Picked To Be Trump's Running Mate

Could A Fracking Byproduct Help Defrost Roads? Ohio Legislators Think So

Snow on highway
Rogelio V. Solis
Associated Press
Motorists along Interstate 49 deal with icy roads in Hattiesburg, Missouri.

The first day of spring is bringing a Winter Weather Advisory in Central Ohio. And while the snow begins to come down, legislators in an Ohio House committee will be considering a new way to remove ice from the roads - using the byproduct of fracking

HB 393, which was introduced in October, would allow for the sale of fracking brine for surface applications, like deicing roadways during Ohio's slick winters. The bipartisan bill is co-sponsored by Republican state Rep. Anthony Devitis and Democrat state Rep. Michael O'Brien.

O'Brien says a particular company, Aquasalina, processes brine from hydraulic fracturing wells to make it usable.

"Whether it be residential deicing, for something as simple as one sidewalk," he says, "or sell to road departments for the county road departments, the city street departments and such, for the deicing method for the winter months."

O'Brien says the method is environmentally sound. But some environmental groups, like the Sierra Club of Ohio, disagree.

"There’s been some great research on this, showing it does not matter what kind of oil and gas well this fluid comes from, it has hazards in it," says Cheryl Johncox, an organizer with the group. "We’re opposed to this bill opening up for additional broader use on roads in the state of Ohio."

Her group believes more regulatory oversight is needed to ensure the product is safe for use on roadways.

O'Brien says the processing distinguishes this from the raw brine byproduct, and that it will be died so it's easily spotted by ODOT. Plus, he says, there will be time for public comment.

"We're going to have an 'interested parties meeting' to try to satisfy their concerns, local environmental groups concerns," O'Brien says.

Clare Roth was former All Things Considered Host for 89.7 NPR News. She joined WOSU in February of 2017. After attending the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, she returned to her native Iowa as a producer for Iowa Public Radio.