Congress Questions US Environmental Group’s Ties To The Chinese Government

Michael Bastasch | Energy Editor

A House committee is asking the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), one of the U.S.’s most prominent environmental groups, about its ties to the China’s communist government.

Top Republicans on the House Committee on Natural Resources sent a letter to the NRDC asking the group to clarify its two-decade relationship with the Chinese government and question whether the group should register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act.

Lawmakers cited recent reports on China’s “vast influence machine” — through funding colleges, think tanks, advocacy groups and others — which it uses to shape its global image, including on environmental issues.

“The Committee is concerned about the NRDC’s role in aiding China’s perception management efforts with respect to pollution control and its international standing on environmental issues in ways that may be detrimental to the United States,” GOP Reps. Rob Bishop of Utah and Bruce Westerman of Arkansas wrote in their letter to the NRDC.

“The NRDC’s relationship with China has many of the criteria identified by U.S. intelligence agencies and law enforcement as putting an entity at risk of being influenced or coerced by foreign interests,” the lawmakers wrote.

Among other things, the lawmakers pressed the NRDC on why they were quick to praise China on fishing policies while other environmentalists decried the communist country’s overfishing.

Bishop and Westerman noted that while the NRDC often praises China, the group “takes an adversarial approach to its advocacy practices in the United States,” including bragging about dozens of lawsuits filed against the Trump administration.

The NRDC has also sued the U.S. government to curtail naval exercises and testing in the Pacific Ocean, but lawmakers said the NRDC has not protested similar actions by China, and the group has been silent on China’s creation of artificial islands in the South China Sea.

However, the NRDC heaped praise on the Obama administration, which it had close ties with. NRDC President Rhea Suh served in the Obama administration Interior Department.

The NRDC did not respond to The Daily Caller News Foundation’s request for comment. (RELATED: Occupy Scott Pruitt? Anti-Capitalists Post EPA Head’s Home Address Online)

“The NRDC’s involvement in China spans two decades and represents a significant investment of time and resources,” Bishop and Westerman wrote to Suh.

“The NRDC’s ability to work in China is dependent on the goodwill of the Chinese Government. The NRDC leadership regularly meets with senior Chinese and Communist Party officials,” they wrote.

Bishop chairs the House Committee on Natural Resources and Westerman chairs the Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations.

Update: NRDC’s director of strategic engagement Bob Deans responded to TheDCNF after publication.

“NRDC seeks environmental solutions that are grounded in sound science, U.S. law and the public interest. We work on behalf of every American to protect our people against dangerous pollution and leave our children a livable world. Those are American values, American goals, and advancing them is manifestly in our national interest, as we have consistently demonstrated for nearly 50 years,” he said.

“As the world’s most populous country, China has much to do with the kind of world future generations inherit, in our country and around the world. We’re proud of our work, in China and elsewhere, helping to create a more sustainable future for everyone, and we look forward to discussing that work with Chairman Bishop and the committee,” he said.

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