Updates: news releases and updates

update: FOIA request for Cardno Entrix contracts re-opened

Posted Feb. 9, 2012 / Posted by: Nick Berning

5 p.m. update, Thursday, February 10, 2012: Friends of the Earth received an email from the State Department this afternoon indicating that our FOIA request for the contract with Cardno Entrix has been reopened and that the department is reviewing a document that may be released to us. We'll keep you posted. What follows is our original press release sent out this morning, after the department had indicated it was rejecting our request.

After acknowledging contract exists, department insists it ‘isn’t one of the agency that handle this kind of request’

WASHINGTON, D.C.—In a move sure to turn up the heat on a conflict-of-interest scandal that has been simmering for months, the State Department told Friends of the Earth this week that it will reject a Freedom of Information Act request for contracts involving the firm Cardno Entrix’s work on the review of the Keystone XL tar sands oil pipeline.

Prior to President Obama’s rejection of the pipeline last month, the State Department had run an environmental review process that was widely criticized as being rife with bias, lobbyist influence and conflicts of interest. The role played by Cardno Entrix, the contractor chosen by the State Department at TransCanada’s behest to oversee drafting of the environmental impacts review as well as the public comment process, has been especially controversial.  Cardno Entrix’s long history of involvement with the oil and gas industry and with TransCanada in particular — which it listed as a major client — raised significant conflict of interest concerns. An October 7 New York Times expose revealed that the State Department “flout[ed] the intent of a federal law” aimed at ensuring impartiality when it hired Cardno Entrix, and numerous members of Congress subsequently called for investigations.

Yet now, in apparent violation of federal law, the State Department has indicated it will reject Friends of the Earth’s Freedom of Information Act request for the State Department’s contract or contracts with Cardno Entrix or TransCanada.

State Department program analyst Tangie Ellis acknowledged in a December 14 email that the State Department has a list of “over six pages of contracts” consistent with Friends of the Earth’s FOIA request and asked whether Friends of the Earth would be willing to pay to obtain them.

Yet by January 24 the department’s tune had changed. Ellis wrote in an email that “the Department of State has not issued any awards to either of the contractors Entrix and/or Cardno” and that “unfortunately the Department of State isn’t one of the agency that handle this kind of request,” [sic] advising Friends of the Earth to ask other federal agencies for the State Department’s contracts.

“Simply put, the State Department’s response to our Freedom of Information Act request has been bewildering, and it’s unacceptable,” said Marcie Keever, legal director at Friends of the Earth. “It’s not clear whether gross incompetence or willful disregard for the law is at play, but either way, the result is the same: the public is being denied its right to see a document that could reveal serious problems in the review of the Keystone XL pipeline — problems that may have led the State Department to understate the damage to the environment that the pipeline would cause.”

Friends of the Earth pledged to continue its pursuit of the documents.

“This matter is far from over,” Keever said. “We will use all the legal tools at our disposal to force the State Department to comply with the law and release its contract with Cardno Entrix.”

Friends of the Earth’s correspondence with the State Department in regard to this Freedom of Information Act request follows.

For more information about this story, contact:

Kurt Walters, 202-222-0751, kwalters@foe.org 

Nick Berning, 202-222-0748, nberning@foe.org

###

 

From: Ellis, Tangie B [mailto:EllisTB@state.gov]
Sent: Tuesday, February 07, 2012 2:25 PM
To: Keever, Marcie
Subject: RE: 201125895 Huynh, Kim - FOIA Case (Freedom of Information Act)

 

Ms. Keever,

 

The letter was finalized and cleared by the reviewer and now my team leader will sign and clear the letter. Once this is done the letter will be sent to you via email and mailed.  I apologize for the delay in getting the letter to you.

 

Sincerely,

Tangie

 

 

This email is UNCLASSIFIED.

 

From: Keever, Marcie [mailto:MKeever@foe.org]
Sent: Tuesday, February 07, 2012 4:48 PM
To: Ellis, Tangie B
Cc: Huynh, Kim
Subject: RE: 201125895 Huynh, Kim - FOIA Case (Freedom of Information Act)

 

Ms. Ellis,

 

Can you give me an idea of when the formal FOIA rejection letter will be sent to Friends of the Earth?  We were expecting it last week as suggested in your email below.

 

Sincerely,

Marcie

 

****************************************
Marcie Keever
Oceans & Vessels Project Director
Friends of the Earth
311 California St., Suite 510
San Francisco, CA  94104
415.544.0790 x223
415.544.0796 (fax)
mkeever@foe.org
www.foe.org

From: Ellis, Tangie B [mailto:EllisTB@state.gov]
Sent: Wednesday, February 01, 2012 12:40 PM
To: Keever, Marcie
Subject: RE: 201125895 Huynh, Kim - FOIA Case (Freedom of Information Act)

 

Good Afternoon Ms. Marcie,

 

The official letter is being prepared and after the letter is completed it will be cleared by one of the reviewers that handle contract FOIA request.   Once this is all completed by the end of the week.  I will fax and email the original letter to Ms. Kim Huynh.

 

Thanks for your patience and understanding.

 

Tangie B. Ellis
Program Analyst
A/GIS/IPS/CR/WEP
SA-2
Room 2001
Ph:202-261-8444 ext.48444
EllisTB@State.gov

 

  

 

 

 

 

This email is UNCLASSIFIED.

 

From: Keever, Marcie [mailto:MKeever@foe.org]
Sent: Wednesday, February 01, 2012 2:01 PM
To: Ellis, Tangie B
Cc: Huynh, Kim
Subject: RE: 201125895 Huynh, Kim - FOIA Case (Freedom of Information Act)
Importance: High

 

Thank you Ms. Ellis,

 

We have not yet received the letter you stated would be sent below to Ms. Kim Huynh by email and fax and wanted to be sure it was transmitted to Friends of the Earth as soon as possible. 

 

Sincerely,

Marcie Keever

 

****************************************
Marcie Keever
Oceans & Vessels Project Director
Friends of the Earth
311 California St., Suite 510
San Francisco, CA  94104
415.544.0790 x223
415.544.0796 (fax)
mkeever@foe.org
www.foe.org

From: Ellis, Tangie B [mailto:EllisTB@state.gov]
Sent: Thursday, January 26, 2012 11:10 AM
To: Keever, Marcie
Subject: 201125895 Huynh, Kim - FOIA Case (Freedom of Information Act)

 

Thanks for understanding and being patient.  An Official Department of State letter will be sent to Ms. Kim Huynh.  After the letter is sent via fax and email to Ms. Huynh the case will be closed.

 

Thanks again for all of your help.

Tangie B. Ellis
Program Analyst
A/GIS/IPS/CR/WEP
SA-2
Room 2001
EllisTB@State.gov

 

  

 

 

 

 

This email is UNCLASSIFIED.

 

From: Keever, Marcie [mailto:MKeever@foe.org]
Sent: Thursday, January 26, 2012 1:34 PM
To: Ellis, Tangie B
Subject: RE: 201125895 Huynh, Kim - FOIA Case (Freedom of Information Act)
Importance: High

 

Kim Huynh

Khuynh@foe.org

202-783-0444 – fax

 

****************************************
Marcie Keever
Oceans & Vessels Project Director
Friends of the Earth
311 California St., Suite 510
San Francisco, CA  94104
415.544.0790 x223
415.544.0796 (fax)
mkeever@foe.org
www.foe.org

From: Keever, Marcie
Sent: Wednesday, January 25, 2012 2:48 PM
To: 'Ellis, Tangie B'
Subject: RE: 201125895 Huynh, Kim - FOIA Case (Freedom of Information Act)
Importance: High

 

Dear Ms. Ellis,

 

I am confused regarding the response below after your email of December 14, 2011 stating you had a 6 page list of possible contracts responsive to the above numbered FOIA request.  In addition, the State Department’s website for the Keystone XL project says it is maintained by Cardno Entrix (“Cardno ENTRIX maintains this site as a portal for information from the U.S. State Department about the Keystone XL Pipeline Project.” at http://www.keystonepipeline-xl.state.gov/clientsite/keystonexl.nsf?Open).  This indicates that the State Department and Cardno Entrix have some sort of contract or agreement regarding the environmental review for the Keystone XL project.

 

Further, based on your email below which only lists “Entrix and/or Cardno,” I am wondering if Cardno, Entrix, or CardnoEntrix were searched.

 

I have attached our FOIA request for your reference.

 

Finally, is your email below an official notification from the State Department FOIA office that our FOIA request is denied and/or closed and if not, we request an official response from the Department of State stating the outcome of our FOIA request and your search of any possible responsive records.

 

Sincerely,

Marcie Keever

 

****************************************
Marcie Keever
Oceans & Vessels Project Director
Friends of the Earth
311 California St., Suite 510
San Francisco, CA  94104
415.544.0790 x223
415.544.0796 (fax)
mkeever@foe.org
www.foe.org

From: Ellis, Tangie B [mailto:EllisTB@state.gov]
Sent: Tuesday, January 24, 2012 8:56 AM
To: Keever, Marcie
Subject: 201125895 Huynh, Kim - FOIA Case (Freedom of Information Act)

 

Good Morning Ms. Keever,

 

I apologize for the delay of my response. 

 

In the search of the information requested contracts or agreements between Entrix, Cardno regarding work performed for the Keystone XL Pipeline Project the Department of State has not issued any awards to either of the contractors Entrix and/or Cardno.   

 

After looking at the list that I spoke to you about regarding case no.#201125895 unfortunately the Department of State isn’t one of the agency that handle this kind of request.  You will have to contact the following agencies the Department of Interior, Department of Agriculture, Department of Defense,  Department of Energy, EPA, NOAA for the contracts you are seeking.

 

I hope this information will help you in locating the contracts needed.  The case will be closed due to the Department of State has not issued any awards to either of the contracts with Entrix and/or Cardno.    .

 

Thanks for all of your help in this matter.

Tangie B. Ellis
Program Analyst
A/GIS/IPS/CR/WEP
SA-2
Room 2001
EllisTB@State.gov

 

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

This email is UNCLASSIFIED.

 

From: Keever, Marcie [mailto:MKeever@foe.org]
Sent: Monday, January 23, 2012 8:36 PM
To: Ellis, Tangie B
Cc: Huynh, Kim
Subject: RE: 201125895 Huynh, Kim - FOIA Case (Freedom of Information Act)
Importance: High

 

Ms. Ellis,

 

Thank you again for working with us to process the above numbered FOIA request.  I have not heard a response from you to the email below sent on January 10 and I wanted to check in on the status of our request and the search.

 

Thank you,

Marcie Keever

 

****************************************
Marcie Keever
Oceans & Vessels Project Director
Friends of the Earth
311 California St., Suite 510
San Francisco, CA  94104
415.544.0790 x223
415.544.0796 (fax)
mkeever@foe.org
www.foe.org

From: Keever, Marcie
Sent: Tuesday, January 10, 2012 1:29 PM
To: 'Ellis, Tangie B'
Cc: Huynh, Kim
Subject: RE: 201125895 Huynh, Kim - FOIA Case (Freedom of Information Act)
Importance: High

 

Dear Ms. Ellis,

 

Thank you for taking the time to speak with me yesterday regarding the above referenced FOIA request.  In response to your questions we have decided that we are not inclined to narrow our request and would like to move ahead with obtaining all responsive documents.  However, I have a couple of questions before we ask you to move ahead with releasing any responsive documents to Friends of the Earth.

 

First, can you estimate the number of pages of the documents that you have found in your initial search so we have an idea of what it would cost to obtain the documents?  Second, we asked for a waiver of all fees for our FOIA request.  Our FOIA request with the fee waiver request and the State Department’s initial response to our FOIA delaying a determination on our fee waiver request are attached.  Has there been any determination regarding our request for a full fee waiver?

 

I am available at this email and the number below if you have any further questions as we proceed with the processing of this FOIA.

 

Sincerely,

Marcie Keever

 

****************************************
Marcie Keever
Oceans & Vessels Project Director
Friends of the Earth
311 California St., Suite 510
San Francisco, CA  94104
415.544.0790 x223
415.544.0796 (fax)
mkeever@foe.org
www.foe.org

 

From: Ellis, Tangie B [mailto:EllisTB@state.gov]
Sent: Wednesday, December 14, 2011 2:59 PM
To: Huynh, Kim
Subject: 201125895 Huynh, Kim - FOIA Case (Freedom of Information Act)

 

Good Afternoon Ms. Huynh,

 

I currently working on case 201125895 Huynh, Kim as the requester asking for any contracts or agreements between the State Department and Cardno Entrix (or its predecessor companies – Entrix or Cardno and/or between TransCananda and Cardno Entrix between the period of 2008 and the present concerning work on the Keystone XL pipeline project under the National Environment Policy Act. 

 

I have sent a task search to the Acquisition Management Bureau for the contracts you are inquiring to receive.  I have acquired over six pages of contracts with the Entrix and Cardno contracts.  You have indicated you are willing to pay only $25.00 with the first 100 pages free in the media category. 

 

If you want all of the contracts listed on the six pages and if so this will exceed the $25.00 that you have agreed to pay.  If you only want specific contracts can you provide the awarded contract number to me.

 

Thanks in advance for all of your help in this matter.

 

Tangie B. Ellis
Program Analyst
A/GIS/IPS/CR/WEP
SA-2
Room 2001
EllisTB@State.gov

 

 

« Back to main page

Take action

SAVE THE BEES

Ask the CEO of Lowe’s to stop selling plants pretreated with bee-killing pesticides.

Follow us on Twitter

Like us on Facebook