Lawsuit Filed Against Montana Attorney General’s Office Over Fracking Documents
An environmental group called the Montana Environmental Information Center(MEIC) is taking Montana Attorney General Tim Fox's office to court over what MEIC argues is the unconstitutional non-disclosure of documents pertaining to fracking.
The documents at issue are background to a letter written to Interior Secretary Sally Jewell last year by Attorney General Tim Fox in opposition to proposed new fracking regulations.
"The [Attorney General's] office, after months of delay, refused to disclose all of the individuals and all of the documents," said MEIC spokesman Jim Jensen. "We believe under Montana's constitution under Article IX, the 'right to know' provisions and also under the public records act of Montana, that we are entitled, and the public is entitled to see any public document and these are most certainly public documents."
The Attorney General's office, on the other hand, says that they did disclose the fracking documents and that the documents being requested now are of a different sort altogether.
"MEIC's lawsuit is regarding attorney-client communication on matters in litigation and potentially in litigation -- not hydraulic fracturing," said Montana Attorney General's office spokesman John Barnes. "In fact, in the materials we provided in response to MEIC's records request, we did not redact anything having to do with the proposed BLM hydraulic fracturing regulations."
The Montana Attorney General's office points out that Governor Steve Bullock also sent a similar statement to Jewell at the same time and yet is not being targeted by MEIC. The charge being that the lawsuit is politically motivated.
"The true political nature of MEIC's lawsuit is made evident by the fact that MEIC went to the press before notifying our office of the lawsuit, and the fact that the lawsuit singles out the Republican Attorney General's office when both our Democrat governor and the attorney general worked together to protect Montana jobs from unnecessary federal regulation," said the Attorney General's office.
Jensen said the lawsuit was filed on Friday, January 31 and that he had not heard a response from Fox's office as late as noon on February 4.