WASHINGTON — Today, the Institute for Energy Research (IER) filed an open records lawsuit against the State Department concerning apparent efforts by Russia to fund environmental pressure groups in the U.S. IER filed this Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia.
In order to obtain more information and educate the public on this matter, IER requested correspondence relating to Russia, hydraulic fracturing and environmental advocacy that were to or from named, high-ranking career State employees. The suit also seeks correspondence discussing House Science Committee Chairman Lamar Smith’s inquiry into the matter, as covered recently in the Washington Examiner.
The State Department, which owed IER responsive records, among other responses, by November 23, 2018, has only acknowledged receipt of the request, failing to provide any of the legally required responses. When pressed, State declined to provide any such response citing a “backlog”.
Today’s suit follows ongoing litigation by IER against the State Department for records pertaining to China’s efforts to engage green pressure groups to organize the post-Obama Washington, D.C. “climate world” as evidenced in emails obtained under previous FOIA requests. Emails cited by IER in its recent FOIA requests confirm a willingness among some federal employees working on climate issues to promote China’s preferred policies, which plainly are not in the U.S. interest.
IER looks forward to resolving the State Department’s public obligations sooner rather than later, but will fully pursue its rights in obtaining these documents of immediate public interest.
IER President Thomas Pyle said:
“Any foreign attempts to covertly influence U.S. energy policy must be exposed and met with full consequences. Particularly given what we have already learned, the State Department’s evident lack of interest in examining this issue of obvious concern to congressional oversight, or in bothering with a substantive response to our request even when pressed, is deeply concerning. We hope State corrects this matter immediately by providing the necessary records to document what has been happening behind the backs of the American people. The State Department must be clear: foreign meddling in U.S. energy policy or markets will not be tolerated under any circumstances.”
Attorney Chris Horner, who filed the suit for IER on behalf of the non-profit public interest law firm Government Accountability & Oversight (GAO) said,
“These issues are too important to face bureaucratic runaround and delays. As IER noted, this request is made to inform the public about an issue of great public interest. State failed to offer even the slightest indication it was in fact processing the request. As such, the State Department suggested this matter has been tossed on the pile of requests that are not likely to be satisfied without filing suit.”
To read IER’s FOIA Request to the State Department, click here.
To read IER’s public lawsuit filled today, click here.