Russian Promotion of Environmental Groups May Have Pushed Europe into Dependence on Imported Energy

As energy prices surge in Europe and worldwide, industry experts and government leaders are now warning of Russia’s deep involvement in the environmental protection community that may have been designed to prevent European energy independence.

James Carafano with the Heritage Foundation recently told Fox News that the Russians are funding some of the “most rabid environmental groups” in order to attack energy production outside of Russia.

As far back as 2014, some European leaders said that Russia was using “disinformation operations” by manipulating environmental activist groups to push nations away from fracking so that they would remain dependent on imported Russian oil.

Anders Fogh Rasmussen, who at the time was secretary-general of NATO and the prime minister of Denmark, publicly stated that he had evidence of such Russian operations. He said that no country should engage in manipulation to “use supply and pricing terms as tools of coercion.” The NATO press office dismissed his remarks as being his personal views only.

Environmental and climate activist groups have consistently denied any connections to Russia. A Greenpeace spokesperson said in 2014 that the idea that Russia exerts control over the organization is “so preposterous that you have to wonder what they’re smoking over at NATO HQ.”

In any event, multiple European nations had banned fracking by 2016. By this year, Russia was providing around 40 percent of the natural gas used by the entire continent. Several nations also import a sizable majority of their oil from Russia currently.

Author and energy expert Michael Shellenberger told Fox News recently that a nation cannot be independent if it heavily depends on foreign nations for energy supplies. He said that just 15 years ago, Europe produced more natural gas than Russia.

He added that the decision by European nations to ban fracking and domestic energy production was “in large part” in response to pressure from climate advocacy groups. Shellenberger said that there now exists strong evidence that those activists were directly financed by Russia.

House Republicans on the Energy and Commerce Committee are now looking into Russian connections with three major environmental groups. Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-WA) is leading the group seeking information from the Sierra Club, the National Resources Defense Council and the League of Conservation Voters regarding their ties to an organization based in San Francisco that is allegedly used by Russian President Vladimir Putin to influence America’s domestic energy production.

Those three advocacy groups told Fox News that the accusations of Russian connections are “completely false” and are part of a conspiracy theory promoting a “smear campaign.”

Rep. McMorris said that the committee looks forward to the evidence requested from the three groups by March 25, assuming they “have nothing to hide.” She added that it is vital to national security to know if Putin or his allies are “meddling with America’s energy affordability and security.”