FOIA Lawsuit filed over State Department role in forging Paris Climate Agreement

E&E Legal Again Forced to Sue State Department for Public Records
Department fails to even acknowledge Request for specific correspondence with and about key green lobbyist who boasted of recruitment by China to organize Post-Obama Climate Agenda

Washington, DC – Today the Energy & Environment Legal Institute (E&E Legal) and the Free Market Environmental Law Clinic (FME Law) filed suit against the Trump Administration Department of State (State). This Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) suit seeks specific records to, from or discussing green-group lobbyist Jennifer Morgan of the World Resources Institute. The requests at issue followed up information obtained by E&E Legal about a coordinated effort, with State’s assistance, between green pressure groups and China to keep the climate gravy train chugging in the post-Obama world.

Specifically, on January 25, 2017, E&E Legal and FME Law submitted a request to the Trump State Department seeking copies of copies of all electronic correspondence sent to or from six State officials sent to or from Jennifer Morgan and which use “China” or several other specific words.

E&E Legal grounded its request in very specific reasons, on which basis it pointed State to precise records with which they could most efficiently begin processing: “with April 30, 2015 through May 30, 2015 emails, beginning 4/15/15 at 8:30 AM from WRI’s Morgan to inter alia Todd Stern and Clare Sierawski (Subject: “US-China longer-term dialogue”).”

E&E Legal also sought copies of all all electronic correspondence sent to or from six State officials sent to or from or referencing four parties involved in arranging a collaborative effort on the climate issue at China’s request.

Regarding this request, which was also grounded in very specific information, E&E Legal pointed State to records with which they could most efficiently begin processing: “with the March 11, 2015 through March 12, 2015 email thread beginning 3/11/15 at 5:42 PM from State’s Trigg Talley to inter alia Todd Stern and Susan Biniaz (Subject “Jennifer Morgan”).”

Morgan, in records obtained in long-running litigation by E&E Legal, boasted to State officials that China’s National Center for Climate Change Strategy and International Cooperation (NCSC) recently asked WRI to coordinate think tanks and other advocates — including those identified by China — “stem[ming] from the recognition that this Administration is coming to an end soonish and their desire to open up channels in DC that are additional to the ones that are working well now.”  Morgan sought the Obama State Department’s assistance and, records show, was met with an enthusiastic response, with State suggesting they immediately arrange a call for their respective “China teams to talk”.

In other records, State officials engaged in a discussion thread, “Subject: Jennifer Morgan”, which it is implausibly withholding in its entirety as b5, “deliberative process”.  Like other records many directly relating to Paris and its circumvention of the U.S. Constitution’s Article II, Section 2 for “advice and consent” of all treaties, this is plainly designed to delay and obstruct public awareness of State’s activities.

State did not even acknowledge the requests at issue in today’s suit, let alone demonstrate by the legal deadline that it is processing them.  Overtures to determine whether State would alter its ongoing obstruction met no favorable response.  As such E&E Legal is forced yet again to sue to obtain public records, which on their face appear highly relevant to the ongoing public debate about the federal government’s role in what has become a “global warming” industry, and coordination with that movement’s leading activists as well as with other countries which seek the U.S. to adopt the agenda’s harmful policies.

These records are of even greater public interest given recent reports of parties having derailed President Trump’s promise to “cancel” the purported U.S. agreement to the December 2015 Paris climate treaty, which he had unambiguously declared was “bad for US business” and allows “foreign bureaucrats control over how much energy we use”.

It is unclear whether the new administration intends to continue the Obama administration’s clampdown on politically embarrassing but nonetheless public information, or if this failure to correct course is the result of holdovers from the prior administration, who also are behind abusive withholdings in E&E Legal’s other suit against State for similar documents.  The latter include redactions of Obama officials joking about how foreign diplomats made clear the U.S. would have to buy others’ participation in a Paris climate treaty, withholding correspondence with lobbyists pursuing the climate agenda as internal deliberative, and even redacting a Rolling Stone reporter’s email to them as he wrote about Obama’s Paris negotiator.

E&E Legal Senior Legal Fellow Chris Horner says, “State continues to withhold records from the public that appear to be highly instructive about the Paris treaty’s development without any legitimate claim to privilege.  We look forward to confirming, by this suit and others, that the current Administration will not in fact continue the Obama administration’s brazen practice of keeping records secret, and will reverse these uses of the non-existent yet remarkably persistent ‘political embarrassment’ exemption to FOIA.”

Horner continued, “As the Washington Post would say, democracy dies in the darkness. The Trump administration should shed some light on these schemes which, whether at EPA or State, exist solely due to having avoided our proper democratic processes”.

“Regardless of what lies behind the widespread failure to reverse facially improper withholdings of public records, it reminds us all that the Trump administration should prioritize review of current disputes over withholdings, finally implementing Pres. Obamas much-hyped, thoroughly disregarded transparency memo to the heads of all agencies,” said E&E Legal’s President Craig Richardson. “Any general counsel taking over a private sector entity would immediately review records on its system that relate to current or likely litigation. The obligation is particularly obvious as applies records relating to key priorities and campaign promises. It is critical here, given signs that parties close to the Trump administration seek to continue the Obama climate treaty policy.”

About EE Legal

The Energy & Environment Legal Institute (E&E Legal) is a 501(c)(3) organization engaged in strategic litigation, policy research, and public education on important energy and environmental issues. Primarily through its petition litigation and transparency practice areas, E&E Legal seeks to correct onerous federal and state policies that hinder the economy, increase the cost of energy, eliminate jobs, and do little or nothing to improve the environment.

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The complaint: complaint-eeli-v-state-cv-17-340-as-filed (PDF)

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55 thoughts on “FOIA Lawsuit filed over State Department role in forging Paris Climate Agreement

  1. Awesome!
    There is a lot coming to light about how all of this federal government apparatus has been functioning along its own path, despite (R) or (D) in the White House, and despite any congressional inquiry.

    It is the business of government being carried out, but is business that is not being guided or led by our elected officials – congress or presidency. –This is especially a problem in international affairs where a lot gets to be kept in secret due to “national security” type claims of sensitivity, and in other areas where a lot is done in conjunction with large, established bureaucracies carrying out vast but unsupervised regulatory activities, and also interfacing with NGOs and other entities through which ideas, efforts, and activities can be coordinated – all largely outside of the knowledge and purview of us, the populace, the electorate.

    FOI is supposed to be our remedy, our saving grace in all of this.

    As we all know, all or nearly all of the story lies in documents WE own – we the people, by government carrying out our wishes on our behalf. Not the oil companies, not the carbon trading companies, not China, not Nigeria. On our behalf.

    • Sorry I can’t agree with this part of your comment, “It is the business of government being carried out, but is business that is not being guided or led by our elected officials – congress or presidency”
      This was carried out at the express desire of Obama to aid him in leaving one of his “Legacies”, in this case the successful conclusion of the Paris Agreement as afr as the New World Order are concerned.

      • A C Osborn February 27, 2017 at 8:34 am
        Indeed. So now we have a case where Obama was working with the Chinese as something that could be a leave behind in the deep state recesses of the State Dept working against the Trump administration? I wonder how much hyperventilating reporting there will be about that?

      • “Sorry I can’t agree with this part of your comment, “It is the business of government being carried out, but is business that is not being guided or led by our elected officials – congress or presidency””

        Because? You actually believe some childish crap about leaving legacies? . .

        “. . .in this case the successful conclusion of the Paris Agreement as afr as the New World Order are concerned.”
        A non-binding non-treaty is what they craved, eh? Not an actual New World Order, just a bit virtue signaling ; ) Unreal . .

  2. Why am I thinking Nutcracker by Chris Horner? The Nutcracker was by Tchaikovsky.

    I sure do like these modern day iron maidens. I would day that FOIAs need to extend to personal emails, not just state department records. The leftist deep state are all using obfuscation tactics to get around FOIA.

      • Unsurprisingly this is the standard in private industry. The legal exposures of employees running business from their personal emails is much too great, not the least of which is compromising customers personal information or the company not being able to respond to lawsuits. It is already a fireable offense in private industry, no reason it should not be in government business, except for politics.

        I guess all is fair in politics, including being sloppy and stupid.

      • I keep thinking it’s about time for a centralized, independent agency to be responsible for cyber-security and data retention. This would dovetail nicely with the NSA’s stated missions. Few would be foolish to attempt to tamper with NSA back-up hardware.

      • Paul,
        Yes. The model to follow is Google, Facebook, Apple, M$, HP, etc. Industry figured this out a long time ago. Government lags because of entrenched bureaucrats who don’t like change or to give up power for any reason.

  3. It does seem that a number of State Department staff should be reassigned to study the climate of Iraq or Syria.

  4. Thank you to the folks at E&E Legal and those who fund their efforts. It is not hyperbolic to suggest that they are doing the hard work of representative democracy. The surest sign that all is not going as it should is the refusal to share information because it may raise embarrassing questions. We get that and it is why we are asking for a transparent process.

    Trump probably just slow in draining the Foggy Bottom swamp. It is one of the deepest in Washington.

  5. We should be personally financially supportive of the CEI when possible. It is easy to underestimate the importance of their voluntary legal work. It is hard to imagine it leading to other than a better outcome when it succeeds.
    Geoff

  6. I hope there are people who can easily contact President Trump on these sorts of things. You can be sure the entire diabolical talents of the Democrat NWO machinery, their moles in gov. and NGOs, UN, t0t@litarian governments have been applied to try to straight-jacket the Trump admin into continuing this destruction of the biggest economic engine and defender of freedom in the world.

  7. I hope there are people who can easily contact President Trump on these sorts of things.

    Isn’t He in FaceBook or Tweeter?

    • State has been an open book to foreign spies for decades if not generations. Opening up to the American people is a novel idea.

  8. All people in the position of powerful influence should be made to declare what they stand to gain financially under the status quo of climate policy.
    And what they stand to lose if the racket is exposed and eliminated.

    In Australia it is easy to define who among media people, industry union superannuation groups, politicians, businesses, and others who have invested in the bogus science.

    I have seen normally even tempered intelligent people on television become unhinged and let fly with totally bogus alarmist clichés the second a comment that irrefutablely and scientifically dismantles one of the the fraudulent tenets on global warming ( climate change).
    As soon as the eyes bulge and the spit is all over the place the truth is revealed.

  9. There seems to be some confusion over the identity and expertise of the ‘300 scientists’ who signed a petition urging Trump to ditch climate agreements. It’s worth reviewing the area of expertise of a each signatory.
    I’m aware both sides use the opinion of non-climate scientists, but having criticised mainstream people for doing it in the past, I wonder whether WUWT should have given the petition so much exposure and credence? ( It’s a Guardian article, so I would advise those Conservatives with high blood pressure and low tolerance to avoid reading it.)
    https://www.theguardian.com/environment/climate-consensus-97-per-cent/2017/feb/27/just-who-are-these-300-scientists-telling-trump-to-burn-the-climate?CMP=fb_gu

      • The Guardian screed goes through a number of examples attempting to highlight (?) their credentials.
        Example 4: – points out a name listing ‘animal science’ and the disparagement begins . .

        Of course, they fail to realise that our own (Oz) Tim Flannery has a degree in dead kangaroos and yet was appointed to head up a Govt. advisory body – The Climate Commission.
        Ha ..

    • The 97% lie has been exposed for years.
      Regardless, I’m quite aware of the tendency of trolls to define a scientist as anyone who agrees with them.

      • That is my point MarkW. On this site we have seen criticism of people on countless occasions who are not climate scientists, but in the case it’s apparently ok. Lets note that one of the main proponents of scepticism on the is site is a hereditary Lord with no apparent qualification in Climate Science. Sauce for the goose etc?

      • Only climate scientists are qualified to make statements regarding the laws of thermodynamics. Or the importance of the width of tree rings on a particular tree out of 77 that proved AGW. Only climate scientists can clearly ascertain the correct global temperature. Staticaians, physicists, and the like are by definition, mostly because we don’t agree with the current climate change regime, not qualified.
        Le Bottom Line, if you agree with AGW, and especially CAGW, you are no doubt a climate scientist. If you don’t, you are not a scientist, in any field or you are irrelevant.

    • It is a laughable assertion by the Guardian that the petitioners lack knowledge of “climate science”.

      Temperature is a physics problem. As is solar intensity, emissivity, Wein’s law, Plank and the rest of the fundamentals beneath planetary dynamics.

      It is the abdication and exclusion of any sound physics in the climate science discipline that has created this bizarre world view where the cold air heats the warm surface.

      Showing up with a “climate scientist” name tag means you live in a surreal world of models and virtual reality. It is not a badge of expertise, but rather, an indicator of non-empirical post-modern pseudo-science. Of course there are few astrologist so on the list.

    • Poor Gareth, he still doesn’t understand the difference between REAL scientist and “Climate Scientist™”

      • AndyG55.
        Pray, tell me, how do you define a valid scientist in the field of Climatology? Seeing as you believe I don’t understand the concept, I believe we would be eager to see how you quantify the description.
        Is a climate scientist one who agrees with your preconceived echo chamber views, or one who opposes them? Is is it one who has trained in the subject, produced and published peer reviewed studies and spends a substantial amount of academic time in the discipline? Or are you more of a Monckton/Farage/ Trump fan?

      • What scientist in the real world could make any number of catastrophic predictions, not have one occur, and still be called a scientist ? Seriously, an astrologer, shaman, or a psychic could have done better. Not only that, the research they are doing is virtually worthless. In fact, I view it as harmful. England was told it wouldn’t have any more snow, so they were totally unprepared a few years ago when snow blanketed the country. Permanent drought in the American mid west, California, and Australia were all the rage amongst warmist. Now all that water is a result of AGW? Along with the people freezing to death from North Africa to Taiwan. I have to go to foreign news services to learn about that. After the warmest year on record ! How much credibility do you have ? Zero ? Or none?

  10. I believe the current administration is on the right path, but I would probably be just as interested in Jared Kushner’s emails to outside entities regarding the Paris Agreement. If reports are to be considered, it was Ivanka and Kushner who were pushing to avoid yanking the US out of the Paris Agreement entirely. I would hazard the guess that there are some gems in his Inbox that would indicate what outside groups were lobbying him or his wife to keep Trump from pulling the plug.

    As concerned as I am for Rex Tillerson and his statements on climate change, it is the non-descript actions like the ones EELI are trying to ferret out that are the most dangerous and long lasting. Ivanka and Jared should be put on notice to stop the shenanigans now.

    • “I believe the current administration is on the right path, but I would probably be just as interested in Jared Kushner’s emails to outside entities regarding the Paris Agreement. If reports are to be considered, it was Ivanka and Kushner who were pushing to avoid yanking the US out of the Paris Agreement entirely.”

      The key phrase being: “If reports are to be considered”.

      You should be very leery of all reports by the MSM. Their purpose is to misconstrue Trump’s actions and motives, and one way they do that is to make some claim that makes it look like Trump is about to go back on his word. So they put out the story that Ivanka and husband are bending Trump’s ear in order to make Trump back down on his climate change promises.

      AFAIK, there is not one public utterance of either Ivanka or her husband that backs up the claim that they are in favor of climate change or that they are trying to influence Trump into making him a fan, too. All we have for this are a couple of claims of reporters.

      It’s just more disinformation by the MSM propaganda machine. I notice the same claim is made in this article, too, but again, no evidence has ever been provided that this is true.

      Some of you guys have to stop being so credulous when it comes to MSM reporting. They are LIARS, or True Believers who pass on lies! You should assume they are lying unless you can independently confirm it yourself, such as by hearing it from Trump’s own mouth. Don’t be one of their dupes.

      Brainwashing is a powerful thing. Don’t become its victim.

  11. You think Hillary was the only one using a private email address? All of this stuff will be off the books, and they will be deleting it right now. To find it, you would have to seize their phones and computers, but since the Weiner episode they’re probably wise to that, so they will be destroying the physical traces too.

    • @ rubberduck,If it’s true that the NSA can “tap” into anybody’s phone they should have a trail to follow. I would think that anyone in government at higher levels are automatically “tagged” anyway!. I hope this gets done and followed up and prosecution if necessary .

  12. “The latter include redactions of Obama officials joking about how foreign diplomats made clear the U.S. would have to buy others’ participation in a Paris climate treaty…”

    Joking? Why would anyone think Obama officials were joking about buying participation in the Paris agreement? He paid Iran billions to sign the Iranian nuclear agreement. He also paid an illegal ransom for Iranian hostages. He was never called to account for such activity, so why would he stop there?

    • Knute, that is not a good sign unless it’s “fake” news. He has a lot on his plate, maybe he is trying to avoid more protests, delays and outright sabotage by keeping things low key and trying not to get full fledged revolt within the bureaucracy. I hope he isn’t wavering though and leave this up to let’s say Congressman Smith and his investigation and until Pruitt at the EPA gets a better handler on things. He would be better of not go in “shooting from the hip”. The same at State and other reluctant agencies.

      • He plays a good game bc he moves boldly forcing his opponents to play defense. This limits the other move the player can make. Unfortunately government is a many headed snake and particularly the infiltration of CAGW money.

        Chipping away at the tactical part (funding and regs) of the CAGW initiative is what Pruitt will do while slowly replacing the focus on CAGW w a focus on infrastructure rebuild and natural resource development.

        If time permits NEW wealth and opportunity should slowly take away from the obession w CAGW.

        The risk is off course thwarting/blocking red taping economic growth.

    • Don’t forget, the objective of the Left and the MSM is to put doubt about Trump in the mind’s of Trump’s supporters. This “Ivanka and Jared” report is meant to do just that. Are you feeling doubtful?

      We will know soon enough whether this is true, or just another in a long list of lies about Trump by the MSM. I’m betting on the latter.

      • It’s not about CAGW … it’s about the shear trillions of stupid money that has intertwined itself among the sycophants. It has the unintended consequence of pulling away money from areas of investment that provide a better return for Americans

  13. If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.

    Joseph Goebbels

  14. When G.W. Bush first won, the previous administration’s staff removed all the “W”s from the White House keyboards.
    Childish.
    Hillary is an adult.
    Let’s hope her kids didn’t bleach anything now that she doesn’t have Holdren (et al) to hide … things.

  15. I think y’all are missing the trees for the forest… someone gave them VERY explicit guidance in what to ask for. They already have copies of those emails, methinks.
    Popcorn’s at the ready.

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