Friends of the Earth appeals State Departments refusal to provide Clintons Keystone XL emails
Agency’s refusal to timely process FOIA request undermines bedrock government accountability laws
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Friends of the Earth has filed aconstructive denial appealin response tothe U.S. Department of State’s refusal to provide records responsive to its March 18, 2015 Freedom of Information Act request. That request was filed after revelations surfaced regarding Secretary Hillary Clinton’s exclusive use of a private email server to conduct official business during her tenure at the State Department. Friends of the Earth’s FOIA sought:
All email records, including email attachments, sent to or from Secretary Clinton’s email account (or accounts should, there be more than one account) between January, 2009 and February 1, 2013, that discuss, refer to, or in any manner mention Paul Elliot, Anita Dunn, TransCanada, or Keystone.
On April 2, 2015, Friends of the Earth received a letter from the State Department stating that the agency intended to review the entire collection of the records that Secretary Clinton provided to State from her non-government email account, and to make as many of them as possible available on a government website for all parties.
“If our previous FOIA requests are any indication, it will take the agencyyears to process all of Secretary Clinton email records,” said Climate and Energy Program Director Ben Schreiber. “Keystone XL could be decided before these documents come out and then the integrity of the decision-making process would forever be in question.” Moreover, on April 24, 2015, in Freedom Watch vs. NSA, the D.C. Circuit Court warned the State Department that it may not delay timely responses to FOIA requests by not releasing any Clinton emails until they have all been reviewed, stating: “We remind the State Department that, although it may choose of its own accord to release the emails to the public at large, it has a statutory duty to search for and produce documents responsive to FOIA requests ‘in the shortest amount of time.’”
Friends of the Earth submitted earlier FOIA requests for documents from Secretary Clinton relating to the Keystone XL decision. By withholding documents from agency control, Secretary Clinton made it impossible for those documents to be included in the responses to those Friends of the Earth FOIA requests.
Schreiber said, “We are concerned about the way in which the State Department is undermining the Freedom of Information Act. The State Department has undermined the ability of civil society to oversee government actions and protect the health of our environment.”