House Bill 235 could affect 3 Ohio refineries

LIMA — Chris Zeigler, executive director of the American Petroleum Institute of Ohio, stopped by the Lima News to explain API’s position on House Bill 235.

The High Hazard Training Certification Act (House Bill 235) would replace flexible trade discretion at Ohio oil refineries with the government, requiring them to hire 80% of their contract or subcontracted construction workers from programs learning by 2024.

API and “those who oppose HB 235 are committed to working with the building trades, or any other contractor, to resolve labor issues at Ohio refineries rather than placing unnecessarily the legislature in the midst of a bill that unfairly targets security. The coalition is asking that HB 235 be tabled indefinitely to instead continue an in-depth discussion of workforce development in Ohio and directly address the underlying issues related to HB 235,” Zeigler said.

There are, according to the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, approximately 20,000 stationary sources in the state of Ohio. However, this bill only identifies three refineries that would be affected by this legislation. Given the definitions and exceptions in the bill, it appears to apply to stationary sources owned or operated by three of the state’s four oil refineries that produce more than 120,000 barrels. The bill defines a stationary source as “buildings, structures, facilities, and facilities that emit or may emit regulated air pollutants or any pollutant listed in the ‘Clean Air Act’ other than emissions resulting directly from internal combustion engines” .

In testimony given in Columbus, Mike Knisley, executive secretary-treasurer of the Ohio State Building and Construction Trades Council, which “represents nearly 100,000 building and construction tradespeople – men and women who put on hard hats and go to work on a construction site here in Ohio every day,” the safety provisions of the High-Hazard Training Certification Act are critical to the safety of workers who build and maintain Ohio’s petroleum refineries.

Knisley, in favor of passing the bill, told the committee, “When a company like Cenovus comes along and finds a cheaper construction option, they push local workers – with their exceptional safety training and of specialized skills – on the side. Apprentices in the joint union-management Plumber-Pipefitters training program complete 246 hours a year in the classroom for their apprenticeship – in the field, they get 2,000 hours. We regularly provide training upgrades at the industrial and refining facilities where we do most of our work.

“The local craftsmen we send to the Lima refinery know each unit, they know lockout/tagout, confined spaces. It’s all dangerous stuff. If you enter this refinery without studying these protocols, it can be deadly. You can’t just walk into the street or even from an out-of-state refinery and know the location. Experience matters,” Knisley said.

Contact Dean Brown at 567-242-0409

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