A report by the US Environmental Policy Alliance has uncovered evidence that tens of millions of dollars are being channelled to environmental groups opposing the fracking industry which is decimating the Russian economy.
The funds appear to be part of a broader Russian foreign policy using money to leverage support from unwitting allies in Western nations. The investigation, which was reported by the Washington Free Beacon, has reported a “shadowy Bermudan company that has funnelled tens of millions of dollars to anti-fracking environmentalist groups in the United States is run by executives with deep ties to Russian oil interests and offshore money laundering schemes involving members of President Vladimir Putin’s inner circle”.
The report cited Bermudan registered Klein ltd, a company which apparently existed on “paper only”, yet funnelled $23 million in just two years to the Sea Change Foundation, which then dispersed the money to Green campaign groups. According to the report, a number of Klein directors have strong connections and have held directorships in Russian companies directly involved with Russian oil, Russian money laundering, and the Russian government.
The report concludes: “The evidence as outlines above raises serious questions about the potential for high-level Russian oil and political interests funding attacks on U.S. energy development by the American environmental movement in an effort to diminish international competition for oil production and protect Russian energy interests”.
Although many dedicated green issue campaigners would likely recoil in horror at the thought they were inadvertently supporting Putin’s foreign policy objectives, this is not the first time Russian involvement in green issues has been suggested.
The former head of the NATO who stepped down last year said Russia was deliberately undermining efforts to develop fracking technology. Anders Fogh 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”.
Fracking, the process by which previously unattainable scarce hydrocarbons are extracted from porous rock deep underground has led to a glut of cheap energy in the United States, which has in turn been able to reduce its reliance on imports. Concerns about the environmental impact of fracking has led to the establishment of an activist anti-extraction community in the States and other countries experimenting with the technology, such as the United Kingdom.
While the “bonanza” of fracking has been good news for consumers and governments as oil prices plunge below $50 a barrel, it had caused trouble for traditional oil exporting nations including Russia and middle-Eastern OPEC members. The drop in prices has been particularly hard on Russia, which needs global prices to hit $70 a barrel just to break even on extraction.