Republican Congressional House members have called for an investigation into links, or “collusion,” between American environmental groups and shell companies run by Russians to discredit shale oil hydraulic fracturing, known as fracking.
The chair of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology, Lamar Smith (R-TX), and the chair of the Subcommittee on Energy, Randy Weber (R-TX), requested an investigation by the Treasury Department to investigate whether environmental groups are being used to subvert U.S. energy policy on behalf of the Russian oil and gas industry.
Citing news reports and IRS documents, the congressmen alleged in a letter requesting the investigation into major environmental groups, including the Sierra Club Foundation, League of Conservation Voters Education Fund, and Natural Resources Defense Council, receiving Russian money to fund their anti-fracking protests:
The letter alleges that the money was sent to the groups through a Bermuda-based shell company known as Klein Limited to funnel money through a foundation known as Sea Change and distributed to the environmental groups from there.
The Daily Wire reported last fall that the Russian connections between environmental groups both in America and the U.K. have been known for a while. Reportedly, Hillary Clinton gave a “secret speech” in Edmonton in 2014 in which WikiLeaks claims she acknowledged Russian bankrolling of “phony environmental groups,” but a check with WikiLeaks' own searchable database doesn't appear to support that claim.
The Daily Caller reports that the belief that the Russians were bankrolling fracking opposition has been circulating at the highest levels, including NATO:
Republicans and some energy experts have long suspected Russia supported anti-fossil fuel activists in the U.S. and Europe.
European officials have accused Russia of backing environmental protesters at potential fracking sites in Romania and Bulgaria to keep them from developing their own energy resources.
Former NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen said in 2014 that Russia “engaged actively with… environmental organisations working against shale gas… to maintain European dependence on imported Russian gas.”
The Daily Signal's Kevin Mooney told Fox News that the idea is simple:
“This is really about protecting Gazprom, Russia's largest oil company, because if the United States' fracking revolution and the shale gas revolution accelerates, it puts Gazprom and Russia back on their heels.”
Russia is a large supplier of energy to Europe. President Donald Trump’s Warsaw speech referred to Poland's dependence on Russian energy when he said:
“To the citizens of this great region, America is eager to expand our partnership with you. We welcome stronger ties of trade and commerce as you grow your economies. And we are committed to securing your access to alternate sources of energy, so Poland and its neighbors are never again held hostage to a single supplier of energy.”
The congressmen wrote in their letter that the effort to bankroll agitation by environmental groups is in keeping with Russia's efforts to misdirect and engage in “propaganda,” “disinformation,” to “maintain dependence on imported Russian gas.”
Smith told the Daily Caller that it's easy to see what’s going on:
“If you connect the dots, it is clear that Russia is funding U.S. environmental groups in an effort to suppress our domestic oil and gas industry, specifically hydraulic fracking.”
“...basically acting as paid agents for a hostile foreign power.”