20 Reps. Call for Hearing to ‘Shine Spotlight on Alarming Reports of Russia’s Attempt’ to Fund U.S. Anti-Energy Activists

Craig Bannister | April 5, 2022 | 1:08pm EDT
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Twenty congressmen are calling on House Oversight Committee Chair Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) to hold a hearing to investigate potential efforts by Russia to undermine U.S. energy independence by funneling funds to anti-energy-production environmental groups in the U.S.

“Given the current global conflict, it is crucial that the Committee exercise its investigative powers to shine a spotlight on alarming reports of Russia’s attempt to buy influence in U.S. politics through domestic environmental groups,” says the letter sent to Maloney on Thursday.

“Russia’s energy sector plays an important role in facilitating its militaristic ambitions. Russia’s energy sales substantially support the current attack on Ukraine,” the letter explains.

The 20 members of Congress are requesting a hearing on alleged coordinated attempts by Russian entities to buy influence and finance U.S. environmental non-governmental organizations (NGOs) in an effort to reduce the energy security of the United States.

As an example, the letter cites a 2017 letter from Reps. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) and Randy Weber (R-Texas) to then-Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin the congressmen that “detailed a concerning example of this in a letter to former Secretary of Treasury Steven Mnuchin.”

Smith and Weber’s letter reported that a Bermuda shell company sent tens of millions of dollars to a U.S. environmental NGO with ties to the Russian government and the Russian oil and gas industry, which was giving millions to U.S. environmental groups, like the Sierra Club.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has made it imperative to launch a probe of NGOs’ financial ties to Russia, Thursday’s letter to Chairwoman Maloney says:

“Given the impact that Russia’s control of the European energy market has had in the lead up and prosecution of the war in Ukraine, it is critical that Congress gains a better understanding of the role that Russian financing has had in shaping American environmental policy and sentiment.

“We respectfully request you use the authority of this Committee to immediately convene a hearing to obtain answers from NGOs on their financial ties to Russia and their willingness to push foreign propaganda that interferes with U.S. energy policies and interests.”

Last Thursday’s letter is just one of recent calls for Congress to renew its investigation of the potential threat to U.S. energy independence.

On March 7 of this year, Rep. Bill Johnson (R-Ohio) sent a letter Chairwoman Maloney and chairs of three other House committees asking that they reopen and “build on” the investigation conducted by the House Science, Space and Technology Committee in 2018.

Additionally, recent commentaries have urged Congress to investigate the potential threat to U.S. energy independence.

“Investigate Russia's covert funding of US anti-fossil fuel groups,” Merrill Matthews, resident scholar with the Institute for Policy Innovation in Dallas, urged in a March 1, 2022 commentary in The Hill.

On March 1 of this year, The Federalist published a piece by former U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) official Samantha Dravis titled, “Stop Letting Environmental Groups Funded By Russia Dictate America’s Energy Policy.” “It is time for Biden and Democrats to wake up and stop their blind allegiance to environmental groups who attack American energy and have links to foreign countries,” Dravis wrote.

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