The public's right to know

By Laura Arenschield The Columbus Dispatch  When I first took this job, environmental activists and other reporters warned me that Ohio’s state agencies could be tough to deal with, that they sometimes act as though they would rather protect oil and gas companies than the people of Ohio.

I don’t know whether that’s actually the intention of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, which is the agency that oversees fracking and drilling and all its related activities here. But I get the frustration.

In June, I asked for a stack of public records related to fracking from ODNR. These are important records, we think here at the newspaper, because they have a lot to do with Ohioans’ health and safety. For the last three months, the agency’s public information officers – the people who are supposed to be helping us all have access to information about ODNR’s activities — have told me that they were working on the request, or that the request was with their legal team for review.

Three months seemed like a long time to us here, so this morning, I, another reporter, and my editor had a conference call with ODNR’s chief lawyer to see what the holdup might be.

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