President Vladimir Putin’s Russia is funding and supporting anti-hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, environmental activists, according to an intelligence community report.
The Russian government, which relies heavily on selling oil to other countries for revenue is concerned “about the impact of fracking and U.S. natural gas production on the global energy market,” according to the intelligence report. The intelligence community points out that RT, the country’s government-funded international media outlet, ran 62 different anti-fracking stories of dubious legitimacy in 2015.
“Buried within the U.S. intelligence community’s report on Russian activities in the presidential election is clear evidence that the Kremlin is financing and choreographing anti-fracking propaganda in the United States,” Drew Johnson, a fellow of the non-partisan Taxpayers Protection Alliance, summarized in a Newsweek piece. “By targeting fracking, Putin hopes to increase oil and gas prices, destabilize the U.S. economy and threaten America’s energy independence.”
High-level Russian oil and political interests have been funding American environmental groups to lobby for new regulations and restrictions on fracking, which reduces the amount of international competition for Russian oil and natural gas.
For example, a shell corporation with ties to a Russian state oil interest “donated” $23 million to an environmental bundler that passed the funds to The Sierra Club, the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), and the League of Conservation Voters, according to a report by the Environmental Policy Alliance.
The NRDC, The Sierra Club, and the League of Conversation Voters accepted donations ranging from $13.50, $15, to $18.1 million from the Sea Change Foundation. The Sea Change Foundation got $23 million from the shell corporation Klein Ltd, which “only exists on paper.”
Klein Ltd has deep ties to Russian energy investment groups like Firebird New Russia Fund and Vimpelcom Ltd. Klein Ltd is incorporated in the Bahamas, and thus doesn’t have to disclose its donors. However, the firm is currently under indictment for offshore money laundering.
Klein Ltd has deep ties to the Russian state-owned oil giant Rosneft. Klein and other outlets have poured immense amounts of Russian cash into the coffers of U.S. environmental groups which have used it to fight fracking, according to a 2014 U.S. Senate report. The Senate report found that the Sea Change Foundation funneled more than $43 million to mostly anti-fracking environmental causes in 2011.
American fracking has created a “perfect economic storm” of historically cheap oil and natural gas, which greatly weakened Putin’s Russia. America surpassed Russia’s production early in 2015 as the world’s largest and fastest-growing producer of oil and natural gas.
As recently as 2013, crude oil accounted for 68 percent of total Russian export revenues, according to the Energy Information Administration. New American oil production means less revenue to fund Russia’s domestic and foreign policy agenda.
The International Monetary Fund predicts that Russia’s economy will shrink 3.4 percent in 2015, the most of any major emerging market. The Russian central bank has previously predicted that if oil prices remain near $40 dollars a barrel, the economy could contract by up to 6 percent. Even the Russian government is worried, cutting its growth forecast for 2015 and predicting that the economy will fall into recession.
Banning fracking in the U.S. would kill 14.8 million jobs and cost the average American family $4,000, according to a study by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
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