ACFAN files legal complaint against ODNR for public records

Athens OH, March 20, 2014 –– Athens County Fracking Action Network (ACFAN) filed a mandamus legal complaint this week in Franklin County Court of Appeals against Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) for failure to comply with ACFAN’s public records request. The public records request made by attorney Richard Sahli on January 16 seeks documents necessary to support ACFAN’s January legal appeal of the K&H2 injection well permit.

“The state has tried to dismiss our appeal without providing us access to public records,” stated ACFAN member and former Athens County Commissioner, Roxanne Groff. “This is unconscionable but unfortunately consistent with ODNR’s wanton disregard of its legal responsibility to the public whom it is entrusted to serve and protect.”  

This is the third time Mr. Sahli has had to file legal complaints in three separate request actions over the past year. The first two were from actions filed by the Sierra Club. He stated, “Ohio courts have held that a single week’s wait can be unreasonable when it comes to public records. We have waited two months.” He added that he had previously sent a follow-up letter to ODNR seeking a prompt response to ACFAN’s request. His letter was not answered.

Sahli explained, “The public records law is all about an agency’s public accountability. This is my third public records suit against ODNR in a year. If the Administration felt responsible to the public, no one would need to file multiple lawsuits against the same agency in the same year.” 

ACFAN member, Heather Cantino, added, “This is yet another example of ODNR thumbing its nose at the public’s right to be involved in making this administration comply with state law. Ohio law still requires some level of public accountability, which ODNR continually ignores and denies.”

ACFAN’s appeal of K&H2 challenges the legal basis for ODNR’s permitting of a second well at the Troy Township Athens County site where K&H1 receives more than 100,000 gallons daily. K&H2 would receive as much as 170,000 gallons a day. Following ACFAN’s notice of appeal, ODNR filed a motion to dismiss, claiming lack of jurisdiction. ACFAN filed a counter motion restating its legal right of appeal. The Oil and Gas Commission met on March 12 but took no action on the case nor set a date set to consider the matter. ACFAN’s appeal is the only appeal of an injection well ever to have been filed in the state.

Links to documents and prior press coverage at acfan.org/injection-wells/

Front page coverage by Athens Messenger, also published at woub.org, 3-21-14; Athens News coverage 3-24-14; and Columbus Dispatch 3-20-14