Russia is behind the campaign to discredit hydraulic fracturing for shale gas (fracking) as part of a “disinformation” operation designed to ensure the West remains reliant on the former Soviet country’s gas.
NATO secretary-general Anders Fogh Rasmussen, told the Chatham House think tank that Vladimir Putin’s government was behind attempts to discredit fracking, according to the Guardian.
Rasmussen said: “I have met allies who can report that Russia, as part of their sophisticated information and disinformation operations, engaged actively with so-called non-governmental organisations – environmental organisations working against shale gas – to maintain European dependence on imported Russian gas.”
A NATO spokesman made clear that the comments represented the personal views of Mr Rasmussen, not official policy. He also declined to elaborate on exactly what Russia is doing, describing his opinions as an “interpretation.”
Fracking is the process by which water and chemicals are injected into shale, to release tiny pockets of gas. The shale itself is like a sponge that was hold huge amounts of gas despite looking solid.
In America fracking has brought down gas prices by as much as 80 percent but perhaps more importantly it has made the country increasingly energy independent. A similar situation in Europe would cause Russia significant financial harm as the economy is based on gas and oil exports.
Fracking would also undermine Vladimir Putin’s powers as he has used Russia’s position as the world’s only energy super-power to bully neighbouring countries. Only this week Russia turned off the gas supply to Ukraine, with whom it has had a troubled relationship with recently.
Environmental groups were keen to deny any links to Russia, Andrew Pendleton, a campaigner at Friends of the Earth, added: “Perhaps the Russians are worried about our huge wind and solar potential and have infiltrated the UK government.” A Greenpeace spokesman said: The idea we’re puppets of Putin is so preposterous that you have to wonder what they’re smoking over at Nato HQ,”
However, despite the claims of campaigners, it is clear that there is a well organised negative campaign against Fracking. It is not always clear who is behind it and Russia certainly has a great deal to gain from ensuring the West is not self-sufficient in gas.