AUGUST 25, 2017
Your Judicial Watch is leading the way in uncovering the corrupt maneuvering by the Obama administration to impose its leftist agenda on our country. As Obama holdovers and the federal Deep State continue to push this agenda even now in the Trump administration, our work is essential. A good example of this is our new lawsuit on the Obama team’s alliance with radical environmentalists to halt work on the Dakota Access Pipeline.
To get a more complete picture, we have had to file a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit against the U.S. Department of Defense for all records from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers regarding environmentalist groups’ attempts to stop construction. We filed the suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia (Judicial Watch vs. U.S. Department of Defense (No. 1:17-cv-01282)).
We acted after the Department of Defense failed to respond to our May 8, 2017, FOIA request seeking:
All records of communication between the Army Corps of Engineers and Greenpeace, Sierra Club, EarthJustice, or Friends of the Earth regarding the Dakota Access Pipeline or the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation.
All internal Army Corps of Engineers emails or communications discussing the efforts of Greenpeace, Sierra Club, EarthJustice, Friends of the Earth, or other environmentalist groups to halt or delay construction of the Dakota Access Pipeline.
In July 2016, the Corps gave permission to pipeline developer Energy Transfer Partners LP to start construction of the pipeline.
In October 2016, in a display of all too typical leftist violence, protesters reportedly set fires on a highway and lobbed “improvised fire bombs” at law enforcement officers, the Morton County Sheriff’s Department said in a statement. There were reportedly over 140 arrests made at the Dakota Access Pipeline protest camps.
In December 2016, the Obama administration reversed itself and denied the permit for the construction of a key section of the pipeline. The rule of law once again took a back seat to environmental radicalism.
On February 23, 2017, the National Guard and police finally evicted the remaining protesters. The Army Corps of Engineers paid a Florida-based waste-management company $1.1 million to clean up the environmentalists’ protest camps. Some 21.48 million pounds of garbage left behind by the protesters was hauled away.
The Trump administration finally reversed the Obama administration’s lame duck decision. The Army Corps of Engineers in February granted the final permit needed for the pipeline after President Donald Trump called for expediting the project.
As reported by Bloomberg.com, Energy Transfer Partners LP recently filed suit against Greenpeace and its allies for “engaging in what they claim is a racketeering scheme far beyond ordinary environmental advocacy. Resolute Forest Products Inc. made similar allegations over Greenpeace’s campaign against logging in a May 2016 lawsuit.”
Barack Obama and radical – and often violent – environmentalists worked hand-in-glove to shut down the Dakota Access Pipeline. We’re not sure why the Trump Defense Department would hide the facts about this scandal and force us to go to federal court to enforce the Freedom of Information Act. But go to court we did with the aim of uncovering the links between Deep State bureaucrats and the radical left. I’ll be sure to update you on what we find.
Obama’s radical environmental agenda was fundamentally dishonest and abused taxpayers trust. To advance its agenda of throttling our nation’s energy industry, Obama’s minions in the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) pushed misleading information about health benefits that would follow its regulatory wrecking ball.
We know this thanks to a Judicial Watch lawsuit against the EPA that uncovered documents we have showing that the agency’s claim that the Obama administration’s 2015 Clean Power Plan would prevent thousands of premature deaths by 2030 was, at best, misleading.
The controversial Clean Power Plan was promoted as combating so-called “anthropogenic climate change” and was designed to mandate the shifting of electricity generation away from coal-powered plants. It would have closed hundreds of coal-fired power plants, halted construction of new plants, increased reliance on natural-gas-fired plants and shifted power generation to supposedly “green” energy sources.
We received the documents thanks to our Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit filed in June 2017 in the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia after the EPA failed to respond to a May 3, 2017, FOIA request (Judicial Watch, Inc. v. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (No. 1:17-cv-01217)). We requested:
All internal emails or other records explaining, or requesting an explanation of, the EPA’s decision to claim that the Clean Power Plan would prevent between 2,700 to 6,600 premature deaths by 2030.
The documents we forced out reveal that carbon dioxide reduction itself would not prevent any deaths. In a June 2, 2014, email from Bloomberg news reporter Mike Dorning to EPA officials Matt Lehrich and Thomas Reynolds, Dorning asks if particulate matter and ozone are the real concern:
So far, what I have found on my own is Table 4-18 on page 4-36 of the Regulatory Impact Analysis report. And, am I reading the table correctly in concluding that all of those reductions come not from the impact on global warming or carbon emissions but entirely from anticipated reductions in emissions of fine particulate matter and ozone that you forecast will come from changes made to reach the carbon reduction goals?
Neither Lehrich nor Reynolds answered Dorning’s question directly. However, Liz Purchia, an Obama-era communications staffer at the agency, characterized the premature-deaths figure as “co-benefits” of carbon reductions and revealed that none of the premature deaths would be prevented by CO2 emission reductions:
This [premature-deaths figure] is a calculation based on the NOX, S02 and PM co-benefits.
It is the soot and ozone that the EPA estimates to cause the deaths, not the carbon dioxide. Because the Obama EPA sought to force industry to reduce carbon output, electricity producers would have had no choice but to redesign factories in a way that also produces less fine particulate matter (soot) and ozone emissions into the atmosphere. But, as usual, the EPA was far less than candid about this.
The EPA did not explain its theory of indirect, “co-benefits” in its press statement, nor did the EPA explain that it is possible to save just as many lives by passing a law requiring less soot and ozone emissions without also requiring a reduction in carbon output.
The bottom line is that we have caught the Obama EPA red handed issuing a series of half-truths and deliberately misleading information – pure propaganda – designed to deceive the American public into accepting its radical environmental agenda.
The documents show that the Obama EPA could not demonstrate that carbon dioxide reductions would, in fact, reduce the number of premature deaths. And sure enough, the EPA omitted the claim that the plan would reduce “2,700 to 6,600 premature deaths” in its final rule.
It is no surprise that it took a federal lawsuit to uncover this Obama deceit. But we do appreciate that the Trump EPA did not drag this litigation out. And we hope other Trump officials start finally paying attention to the FOIA law.
On March 28, President Trump rolled back Obama’s regulatory power grab with an executive order directing the EPA to begin the legal process of withdrawing and rewriting the Clean Power Plan.
What did Rahm Emanuel know, and when did he know it? That’s what Judicial Watch attorneys were trying to find out when they appeared at a court hearing earlier this week in the Windy City.
On October 20, 2014, Chicago Police Officer Jason Van Dyke shot 17-year-old Laquan McDonald 16 times. A video of the shooting, captured on one police cruiser’s dashboard camera, was not released to the public until November 24, 2015 – more than 13 months later.
Considerable controversy has arisen over whether Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel may have participated in a cover-up of the video until after his hotly contested re-election as mayor in April 2015.
So we sued Emanuel and the Office of the Mayor seeking “all records of communications” concerning police dash cam videos of the shooting. A hearing was held on Monday, August 21, 2017, in the Circuit Court of Cook County, Chancery Division, on our Illinois Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit.
We sued after Emanuel’s office failed to respond to a December 2, 2015, FOIA request seeking:
[A]ll records of communications of officials within the Office of the Mayor – including, but not limited to, Mayor Rahm Emanuel – concerning the police dash camera recordings of the October 20, 2014 shooting of Laquan McDonald.
The request also specified that such communication would include discussions about the release of any such video recording to the public and that the time frame of the request is from October 20, 2014, until the date of the request.
The mayor’s office eventually responded to our FOIA request in January 2016 and attempted to have the case dismissed. We argued the case should not be dismissed because the mayor’s office had not conducted a thorough search for records. The court agreed. During a September 2016 hearing, the court concluded that the search was insufficient and ordered the mayor’s office to work with us in defining search terms and to subsequently search for additional records.
On November 3, 2016, we were informed that the searches yielded over 900,000 emails.
The mayor’s office, however, then ignored and continues to ignore the court’s September 2016 ruling. In January 2017, we asked the court to find the mayor’s office in contempt. We argued that the office failed to respond to our questions about how the office conducts searches for emails, what its capabilities are, and which proposed search terms could be used. We were also concerned about the use of non-government email accounts. We wrote:
[Judicial Watch] subsequently followed up with Defendants by email on November 16, 2016, November 28, 2016, and December 6, 2016 relative to all of the above issues. To date, Defendant has not responded to [Judicial Watch] let alone answer any of the questions [Judicial Watch] has posed concerning Defendants’ search efforts.
Because Defendants have failed to respond to [Judicial Watch’s] inquiries, [Judicial Watch] cannot comply with the Court’s September 23, 2016 order. In addition, Defendants’ failure to respond to [Judicial Watch’s] inquiries violates the Court’s order.
In June 2017, the mayor’s office offered limited cooperation with a partial and inadequate production of documents. Due to a continued lack of full cooperation, however, in July we again asked the court to find the office in contempt.
A young man died in Chicago under what can only be termed the most suspicious of circumstances. Rahm Emanuel’s office had a vested interest in stalling the release of the video and to this day unquestionably is refusing to comply with a court order that paves the way to the release of communications regarding the tragedy.
The court deferred on finding the Mayor in contempt and ordered the parties to try work things out by early September. Let’s hope the cover-up ends.
Until next week …