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 filed the suit in a Franklin County Common Pleas court in April, claiming that agency officials had ignored their requests for public records for months. The advocacy group wanted to see all official records and emails related to the agency’s plan to open up state parks and forests to fracking.
The Dispatch also had filed a public records request for the same records.
Documents and emails showed, among other things, that officials had considered keeping drilling rigs farther away from campgrounds and other attractions than a proposed 300 feet, that teams of agency officials were sent from their regular jobs to scour property records for state-owned mineral rights, and that officials had discussed whether they should sell water from state park lakes and streams for fracking.
The agency released a short statement on the settlement. “We consider this case closed and are pleased that this matter is resolved to the satisfaction of both parties,” wrote spokeswoman Bethany McCorkle.
Jed Thorp of the Ohio Sierra Club said he was satisfied, too. “We hope that this lawsuit will improve ODNR’s responsiveness going forward,” he said.