CEI v. Department of State

The Competitive Enterprise Institute filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Department of State to force it to comply with four Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests related to its work on the Paris Climate Agreement.

CEI’s FOIA requests seek to gain a better understanding of why the Paris Climate Agreement was not considered a “treaty” by the Obama Administration when it was signed in 2015, and of what steps the State Department took to orchestrate that signing. The requests seek information about the State Department’s use of “validators” on this issue—outside experts and groups who agreed to provide commentary in support of the State Department’s agenda.

This information is important to the American public, as the Trump administration still needs to provide a plan and timeline for withdrawing the United States from the Paris Agreement. Information on the State Department’s use of validators will give Americans a better understanding of why certain claims were made by some experts and news organizations, and why these newsmakers supported the State Department’s claim that the Paris Agreement was not a treaty.

CEI is also seeking online communications such as the encrypted app WhatsApp that State Department officials use to communicate about the agreement.

The State Department had 20 working days to provide CEI with its estimate of the number of relevant documents and what it planned to withhold from disclosure. It failed to do so, and CEI is asking the court to order the production of the documents.

Read CEI’s complaint and the original FOIA requests below.

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