YOUNGSTOWN - D&L Energy's attempt to regain permits to operate its oilfield waste disposal operations was denied Thursday by the Ohio Oil and Gas Commission, at least for now.
The Salt Springs Road-based energy company had argued before the commission this week that its permits should be restored, at least temporarily, until the company has a chance to argue the merits of the case to regain the suspended licenses.
The chief of the state's Division of Oil and Gas in February revoked all of the company's licenses to transport, store and dispose of oilfield waste in its injection wells after the agency said it determined the company was allowing unlicensed sister companies to transport brine and crude using D&L's permit.
The discovery was made during an investigation into illegal discharge of oilfield waste including brine and crude into a storm drain on D&L Energy property, 2761 Salt Springs Road. Since then, the company's former owner, Benedict Lupo, 62, of Poland, and Michael Guesman, 34, of Cortland, an employee of sister company Hardrock Excavating, have been charged with one count each of violating the federal Clean Water Act.
Lupo, who also headed up Hardrock Excavating, is accused of ordering Guesman to dump the untreated brine down the drain, which eventually emptied into the Mahoning River. Both have pleaded innocent to the charges.
Lupo resigned Feb. 15 as director and trustee from D&L Energy. The posts were transferred to his wife, Holly Serensky Lupo.
In March, D&L Energy officials filed a motion appealing the revocation of its permits and asking for a stay until the case is argued on its merits. That appeals hearing is scheduled for May 22 in Columbus.
D&L Energy's attorney Michael A. Cyphert argued the company is being "punished for the conduct of the employees of another company, Hardrock Excavating, LLC."
He also argued: "No determination has been made that D&L Energy's injection wells are adversely affecting the health of persons or the environment.''
Thursday, however, the commission denied the motion for the stay.
"A stay of execution is considered an extraordinary relief, and the applicant for such relief shoulders the burden to prove entitlement thereto," the commission wrote in its decision. "The commission finds that D&L has failed to demonstrate compelling grounds to support a stay of execution."