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Putin’s War Revives Calls for Probe of Russia’s Support of Green Groups Battling U.S. Oil Production

Craig Bannister | March 11, 2022 | 5:18pm EST
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Russian President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine has sparked renewed concerns that Russia may be providing financial support for U.S. anti-domestic energy activists trying to stop the U.S. from producing oil, particularly through the process of fracking.

Russia, a leading supplier of oil on the world market, has leverage over other countries that are opposed to the invasion of Ukraine, but are dependent on Russian oil. Thus, Russia has both political and financial incentive to undermine U.S. domestic oil production – a long-standing concern, which has garnered renewed attention in light of the invasion of Ukraine.

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

In the past, “media and Democrats mostly shrugged their collective shoulders” at concerns that Russia may be aiding environmental groups attempting to prevent the U.S. from producing oil,” Matthews writes. “Maybe Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will force those naysayers to reconsider the accusations and evidence and begin new investigations.”

Of particular concern is that Russia may be responsible for the success environment groups have had in preventing oil production via the process of fracking, Matthews writes:

“Clearly, environmental groups have had some success with their anti-fracking efforts. New York, Washington and Maryland have banned fracking. California Gov. Gavin Newsom issued an executive order last year banning fracking in the state by 2024.”

Also 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.”

“Indeed, it is an open secret that Russians have funded anti-fracking and anti-natural gas propaganda in America for decades, as environmental groups funded the campaigns of Democrats and pressured them to ban fossil fuels,” Dravis writes, also noting the environmental left’s success:

“After spending millions to elect Biden, the environmental left got its wish: Biden canceled America’s Keystone XL pipeline, blocking the safe transport of oil from one of our closest allies and killing thousands of jobs. At the same time, Biden removed President Trump’s sanctions on the Russian NordStream2 pipeline, giving Putin the green light to move forward.

“Biden canceled oil and gas leasing on 2.46 billion acres of federal on and off-shore lands, effectively crushing American energy supplies.”

“The result is that Russia got exactly what it wanted: Europe and America have become more dependent on Russian gas,” Dravis concludes. “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.”

An award-winning MRCTV documentary, “Killing Keystone: How Biden & The Left Destroyed American Energy Independence,” (See video below) examines the timeline of the Keystone XL project and how American energy independence has been lost under Joe Biden and the policies of the left.

On March 7 of this year, Rep. Bill Johnson (R-Ohio) sent a letter to the chairs of the House committees on Energy and Commerce, Oversight and Reform, Science Space and Technology, and the Select Climate Committee asking that they reopen and “build on” the investigation conducted by the House Science, Space and Technology Committee in 2018.

Also on March 7, in a self-published piece on Substack, Author Michael Shellenberger accused Russia of funding anti-fracking activists.

“Europe reduced its natural gas production, including from fracking, under pressure from climate activists. It now turns out that some of those anti-fracking activists were funded by Putin.” Shellenberger says, linking to his February 24 tweet, citing the Centre for European Studies.

While accusations of Russia supporting anti-oil environmental groups have been made for years, they are predominantly predicated on four sources:

  • A 2017 letter from Reps. Lamar Smith (R-Texas) and Randy Weber (R-Texas) to then-Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin,
  • A 2017 report by the Director of National Intelligence (DNI),
  • 2016 comments by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton attributed to a speech to a private audience, and
  • A 2014 remark by then-North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen.

A 2018 United States House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space, and Technology majority report summarizes the NATO, Clinton and DNI findings and incorporates information from Rep. Smith’s letter to Mnuchin:

“Secretary General of NATO, told reporters in 2014, ‘Russia, as part of their sophisticated information and disinformation operations, engaged actively with so-called nongovernmental organizations—environmental organizations working against shale gas—to maintain dependence on imported Russian gas.’”

….

“Former Secretary of State and then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, with access to intelligence reports, made a private speech in 2014, according to documents from WikiLeaks, which included statements about the struggles of dealing with Russian-backed environmental groups. According to a media report, Secretary Clinton said the following: ‘We [the State Department and the U.S.] were up against Russia pushing oligarchs and others to buy media. We were even up against phony environmental groups, and I’m a big environmentalist, but these were funded by the Russians to stand against any effort, ‘Oh that pipeline, that fracking, that whatever will be a problem for you,’ and a lot of the money supporting that message was coming from Russia.”

….

“In January 2017, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence released a report that contained ‘clear evidence that the Kremlin is financing and choreographing anti-fracking propaganda in the United States.’ The report found that the Russian-sponsored news agency RT (formerly Russian Today) ‘r[an] anti-fracking programing, highlighting environmental issues and the impacts on public health,’ which ‘is likely reflective of the Russian Government’s concern about the impact of fracking and the U.S. natural gas production on the global energy market and the potential challenges to [Russian energy companies’] profitability,’ such as state- controlled Russian energy giant Gazprom. A Republican staff report by the Senate suggests that Russian funds have been funneled through off-shore corporations and passed on to U.S.- based environmental activist organizations with the intent to effect political change.”

….

“The Committee began investigating Russian attempts to influence U.S. energy markets in the summer of 2017 when Chairman Smith wrote the Secretary of Treasury regarding Russia’s intricate money-laundering scheme. Russian-sponsored agents funneled money to U.S. environmental organizations in an attempt to portray energy companies in a negative way and disrupt domestic energy markets.”

 

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