Description: Freedom of Information Act lawsuit seeking records from the U.S. Department of State concerning its analysis of whether the 2015 Paris Agreement constituted a treaty.
Energy Policy Advocates v. U.S. Department of State
Filing Date Type File Action Taken Summary 11/03/2019 Complaint Download Complaint filed. Non-Profit Group Sought State Department Records on Treatment of Paris Agreement as Non-Treaty Agreement. A non-profit organization filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the U.S. Department of State seeking a response to requests for documents, memoranda, and emails related to the State Department’s “Circular 175” analysis for determining whether an international agreement is a treaty. The plaintiff alleged that the records it sought would “inform the public of the Department’s ‘working law’ leading it to declare that the 2015 ‘Paris climate agreement’ … was, for U.S. purposes, not a treaty, but a mere ‘agreement’, despite Paris requiring ever-tightening constraints every five years in perpetuity or until the U.S. withdraws, and despite Paris otherwise being a treaty according to its duration, its lineage, international practice and U.S. custom and practice.” The plaintiff said it had in its possession a document that purported to be the Circular 175 memorandum of law for the Paris Agreement. The plaintiff alleged that, if authentic, this document “represents a significant legal and political scandal” because it misstated the history of agreements that supported its conclusion that the Paris Agreement was not a treaty. The plaintiff asserted that documents it sought from the State Department were the “only means” that would allow the public to evaluate the propriety of entering and withdrawing from the Paris Agreement.