From the Columbus Dispatch
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources has paid a $1,000 settlement and nearly $8,000 in attorney fees and court costs to end a public-records lawsuit.
The Ohio Sierra Club sued the agency in Franklin County Common Pleas Court in April, claiming that officials had ignored records requests for months. The advocacy group wanted to see all documents and emails related to the agency’s plan to open state parks and forests to shale drilling and “fracking.” The Dispatch had filed a request for the same records.
The documents and emails were released in four batches over two months. They revealed, among other things, that officials had considered keeping drilling rigs farther from campgrounds and other attractions than a proposed 300 feet, and that teams of agency workers were sent from their regular jobs to scour county property records for state-owned mineral rights. Officials also had discussed whether they should sell water from state park lakes and streams for fracking.
The state has yet to offer public land for drilling under the authority of a state law that was enacted on Sept. 30.
“We consider this case closed and are pleased that this matter is resolved to the satisfaction of both parties,” Natural Resources spokeswoman Bethany McCorkle said in a statement.
Jed Thorp of the Ohio Sierra Club said he is satisfied, too. “We hope that this lawsuit will improve ODNR’s responsiveness,” he said.