U.S. intelligence officials confirmed in a declassified report that a Kremlin-controlled media outlet ran programming critical of hydraulic fracturing to ward off challenges to Russia’s energy empire.
Officials reported that RT, which they call the “Kremlin’s principal international propaganda outlet,” ran “anti-fracking programming, highlighting environmental issues and the impacts on public health.”
The Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI) confirmed the Kremlin’s use of RT to attack U.S. fracking for oil and natural gas in a report presenting evidence of Russian intelligence attempts to delegitimize the results of the 2016 election.
“This is likely reflective of the Russian Government’s concern about the impact of fracking and US natural gas production on the global energy market and the potential challenges to Gazprom’s profitability,” ODNI reported.
Russia has seen its oil revenues collapse and gas monopoly over Europe threatened by fracked oil and gas from the U.S. Russian President Vladimir Putin, and his oligarchs have publicly voiced concerns about the impacts of fracking.
Putin has said “black stuff comes out of the tap” when there’s fracking, and Russian state-owned gas company Gazprom said fracking poses “significant environmental risks” to water supplies.
RT, a Russian state-owned media outlet, has been running programs critical of fracking for years, and have eagerly covered even the most insignificant anti-fracking protests in Europe and the U.S.
Industry experts have speculated for years Russia was working behind the scenes and funding anti-fracking movements.
Eastern European officials claimed Russia is backing environmental protesters at potential fracking sites in Romania and Bulgaria.
Former NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen told reporters in 2014 that Russia “engaged actively with so-called non-governmental organisations – environmental organisations working against shale gas – to maintain European dependence on imported Russian gas.”
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton told audience members during a paid speech in 2014 that Russian oligarchs were propping up “against phony environmental groups” opposed to pipelines and fracking.
The text of that speech was, rather ironically, made public by WikiLeaks — the very website ODNI says has ties to the Russian government. ODNI says Russian intelligence funneled emails from Clinton campaign chair John Podesta’s email account to WikiLeaks.
WikiLeaks published thousands of Podesta’s emails online. ODNI says it was part of a broader effort to “undermine public faith in the US democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency.” ODNI even claims Putin had a “clear preference” for President-elect Donald Trump.
So far, there’s limited evidence of Russian oligarchs funding U.S.-based environmentalists.
But the Environmental Policy Alliance (EPA) found a Bermuda-based shell corporation with ties to Russian oligarchs has given $23 million to the Sea Change Foundation, an environmental nonprofit, in 2010 and 2011.
Sea Change gave millions to U.S.-based environmentalists that year, including the s the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Sierra Club and the League of Conservation Voters.
“These organizations are involved in advocacy and lobbying against the development of natural gas through the process of fracking,” EPA reported in 2015.
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