Fiona Hill: Giving up Fracking in U.S. Would Help Putin’s Russia

Pump jacks are seen at dawn in an oil field over the Monterey Shale formation where gas and oil extraction using hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, is on the verge of a boom on March 24, 2014 near Lost Hills, California. Critics of fracking in California cite concerns over water usage …
David McNew/Getty Images

Fiona Hill, former National Security Council senior director for Europe and Russia, said at the House Intelligence Committee hearing on impeaching President Donald Trump on Thursday that if the United States gives up hydraulic fracturing, it would play into the hands of Vladimir Putin.

Rep. Mike Conaway (R-TX) was questioning Hill during the hearing and asked her about the Russian-backed Russian TV or RT and its influence in the United States.

“So the RT, Putin’s – would you agree with me RT is Putin’s propaganda machine in the United States?” Conaway asked.

“I would agree with you, yes,” Hill said.

“Is it appropriate for RT to be used to affect public policy in our nation?” Conaway said. “For example, a long series of advertisements or programs on RT going against fracturing, saying it was bad and trying to affect public policy in the United States.”

“Should Americans be paying attention to that?” Conaway asked.

“In the sense that Americans should be paying attention to RT and other outlets used to propagate this information, absolutely,” Hill said. 

“Fracking is a controversial issue in our nation,” Conaway said. “If we did away with fracking, the United States wouldn’t be in a position today to dominate oil production in the world and play into strengthening Putin’s hand.”

“That’s correct,” Hill said. “I’d like to point out, in November 2011, I sat next to Vladimir Putin at a conference in which he made that precise point.”

“It was the first time he had done so to a group of American journalists and experts who were brought to something called the Discussion Club,” Hill said. “[Putin] started in 2011 making it clear that he saw American fracking as a great threat to Russian interests.”

“We were all struck by how much he stressed this issue,” Hill said.

Investors Business Daily reported in November 2018 about the fracking revolution in the United States:

The river of oil now hitting the market from U.S. fracking has stunned global energy markets. The U.S. has already leapfrogged both Russia and Saudi Arabia as the No. 1 producer. For the first time since World War II, the U.S. is on the verge of being a net oil exporter — something that, just five years ago, would have been considered impossible.

This, of course, has caught the 28-nation Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries by surprise. Even just a few years ago, the consensus was that fracking and its related technologies would add a decent amount of oil to the market, but nothing like what’s happening now.

As Javier Blas of Bloomberg notes, U.S. oil output is rising at its fastest pace in 98 years. Meanwhile, both Russia and the Saudis are also pumping at record levels. The U.S. is tipping the scale. Since 2010 in the West Texas Permian Oil Basin alone, some 114,000 new wells have been drilled, bringing millions of barrels of new oil to the market. Other parts of the U.S. are undergoing the same transformation.

The hearing marked the end of two weeks of testimony from mostly the diplomatic wing of the federal government, including David Holmes, an aide to the top U.S. diplomat in Ukraine, who sat next to Hill at the witness table.

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