Sobe Campaign Timeline
Dates & Actions beginning August 2017 in the campaign to
keep Youngstown free of pollution from SOBE Thermal Energy
Scroll down to see latest developments!
August 2017: PUCO sought to have Youngstown Thermal placed under a court-appointed receiver to operate the utility as it faced insolvency.
April 19, 2019: The court-appointed receiver entered into a purchase agreement to sell all the business and assets of the Youngstown Thermal, LLC and Youngstown Thermal Cooling, LLC to SOBE.
Jan. 13, 2021: Youngstown Thermal and SOBE jointly filed an application to transfer its customers to SOBE.
Oct. 27, 2021: a PUCO staff review found SOBE is capable of providing service, having made several capital investments to improve system efficiencies, and is financially healthy enough to maintain service.
Nov. 17, 2021: PUCO permits SOBE Energy Solutions to purchase defunct Youngstown Thermal, LLC which was a utility producing steam heat for downtown buildings. They applied as a heating and cooling company, SOBE Thermal and paid $250,000.00. Press release here.
Nov. 22, 2021: Concerned citizen attends the Public Utilities Committee meeting of the Youngstown City council, asks what safeguards in place regarding dangerous air emissions Since the state shut down the Air Pollution division of the Youngstown Health department and this process would create dioxins and furans from superheating tires and recycled plastics in the populated area of our city. Chairman Mike Ray says the city council are unaware of this business coming to town. He said that nothing can be done because the state regulates air pollution.
July 14, 2022: 35 Congress persons urge US EPA to put into place regulations on this new chemical recycling as incineration process under Clean Air Act. They are not properly classified and regulated while these businesses are being placed in disadvantaged communities throughout the USA, endangering public health. Letter here.
July 21, 2022: Public utilities committee of the Youngstown City Council holds an “informational” meeting with public present where the CEO of SOBE Energy Solutions, David Ferro describes their profit-making plan: to superheat shredded tires and recycled plastics to produce new plastic and carbon black to sell, provide steam heat from this process, as well as some electricity and mining of cryptocurrencies.
August 11, 2022: Concerned Youngstown citizens met at the Dorothy Day house to plan a public meeting to have the company present test process-run data on the safety of their planned operation.
September 16, 2022: Permit to operate the natural gas boiler was granted to SOBE.
September 19, 2022: Youngstown's Third Ward meeting with EPA explaining the purpose and history of OHEPA. Did not mention SOBE but concerned resident brought it up.
October 3, 2022: Records request to the OHEPA for all correspondence between SOBE, CHZ, Optics Consulting and Pennoni and the OHEPA. They received our request on October 7. We received files on November 7, 2022.
October 12, 2022: SOBE Concerned Citizens meeting 6-8 pm at UUYO. More than 75 people attend community meeting and asked the CEO of SOBE, David Ferro questions. Coverage by WKBN and WFMJ.
January 9, 2023: SOBE Concerned Citizens Town Hall at Covelli Center.
The Love Your Neighbor block watch welcomed more than 100 Youngstown residents concerned about the possibility of a plastics and tire recycling plant in the heart of downtown Youngstown. Attendees viewed the new SOBE Concerned Citizens billboard reading “We Have Enough Toxic Air Pollution–Stop SOBE.” The billboard is located at Belmont Avenue and Burlington St., a high traffic area on the north side.
January 24, 2023: SOBE Concerned Citizens Billboard unveiling press conference
February 7, 2023: SOBE Concerned Citizens met with Mayor Jamael Tito Brown and urged him to speak to OH EPA officials in Columbus and tell them Youngstown citizens do not want this pyrolysis plant.
February 17, 2023: Public Town Hall meeting at the UUYO presenting the website and the STOP SOBE yard signs as well as a summary of the Feb.7 meeting with the mayor. Silverio Caggiano, HazMat expert, spoke on the chemicals released at the East Palestine train derailment and the similar chemical releases that could occur at a pyrolysis plant such as SOBE.
March 22, 2023: The first meeting of the Youngstown City Council Climate Change, Environment and Sustainable Technology Committee featured speaker Sil Caggiano, former YFD battalion chief and HazMat expert explaining the air emissions that could be released from SOBE's process and why no industrial zoning variance should be granted to them.
March 30, 2023: Dorothy Day House hosted SOBE Concerned Citizens Public Town Hall Meeting where the public was updated on SOBE's changed business plan to gasify computer waste and plastic in Lowellville, and tires in Youngstown. Tom Hetrick presented a zoning opinion written by city planner Jack Daugherty, formatted as a petition for the Mayor and Planning Commission.
April 1 through May 2: SOBE Concerned Citizens canvassed Youngstown residents, obtaining 553 signatures on the Zoning Petition urging NO industrial variance be granted to this pyrolysis plant. PETITION
May 9, 2023: SOBE Concerned Citizens met with Mayor Brown and presented the petition and urged the mayor to represent Youngstown residents and protect the public health. In a news interview that evening, a quote from Mayor Brown ended with: "...I will listen to the citizens."
May 18 2023: SOBE Concerned Citizens holds a press conference at the SOBE Thermal site. Calls for the Mayor to write a letter to SOBE CEO stating that they cannot expand to an industrial operation where they are located, in a Mixed Use Community Zone.
July 6, 2023: OH EPA issues draft air emissions permit for public comment to SOBE. Deadline for public comments is set for August, we ask for extension of deadline. They change public comment deadline to September.
August 10, 2023: Public Comment Meeting Held by Ohio EPA at the Eugenia Atkinson Center in Youngstown.