Heavily redacted public documents from the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality regarding millions of dollars in legal expenses has sparked a lawsuit by journalist and consultant Michael Rejebian.

Rejebian, a former Clarion-Ledger reporter, filed the complaint in Hinds County Chancery Court, alleging DEQ violated the state’s Public Records Act by so over-editing its documents as to render them useless.

When Rejebian requested the same type of records from the Mississippi Development Authority, MDA provided 57 pages of invoices and expense reports from the Birmingham-based law firm of Balch & Bingham without a single redaction.

DEQ Director Trudy Fisher denies the claim that her agency violated the Public Records Act, saying it is within its lawful right to redact the records in question.

It has not yet filed a response to Rejebian’s court complaint and has until early April to do so.

At issue are hundreds of pages of invoices and expense reports submitted to DEQ by three contractors working on the agency’s claim against BP for environmental damages. This is in the wake of the April 2010 Deep Water Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

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