Lawsuit Against State Department Prompts Expedited Treatment of Polluter FOIA RequestState Department changes status of request pursuing possible fossil fuel influence over EU-US Task Force’s Ukraine response by Amos Hochstein
WASHINGTON – In a victory for Friends of the Earth’s lawsuit, the U.S. Department of State has reversed its denial of expedited processing for a FOIA request targeting potential polluter influence over the U.S. response to the crisis in Ukraine. Recent commitments by the Biden administration to increase liquified natural gas (LNG) exports threaten to worsen the climate crisis, delay the transition to renewables and lock-in another generation of fossil fuel infrastructure.
The organization filed its lawsuit on May 31, 2022 compelling DOS to respond to its May 12 Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, which has gone unfulfilled. The records at issue, which will now be provided on an expedited track, will provide new insight into the role that Amos Hochstein, a former LNG executive, is currently playing as Senior Advisor for Energy Security at the State Department in setting policies that may benefit his previous employers.
“A former natural gas executive should not be in charge of increasing natural gas exports,” said Lukas Ross, Program Manager at Friends of the Earth. “When it comes to Mr. Hochstein’s collaboration with the fossil fuel industry, nothing less than complete transparency will suffice.”
Hochstein officially rejoined the State Department in August 2021 after working as an executive at Tellurian, a LNG export developer. He has since become a leading voice in the Biden administration’s response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine, overseeing the new EU-US Task Force on Energy Security, whose mandate includes increasing LNG exports to Europe.
“Our lawsuit was a victory, but this is the first battle in a larger war over government transparency on fossil fuel company influence,” said Hallie Templeton, Legal Director at Friends of the Earth. “We will continue holding the State Department’s feet to the fire to ensure that records are promptly turned over in accordance with federal law.”
Friends of the Earth is being represented by the public interest law firm Eubanks & Associates, PLLC.
Communications contact: Brittany Miller, [email protected], (202) 222-0746