Russia’s War on Fracking
If you were a revanchist dictator intent on carving out a new empire with a military funded by oil and natural gas profits, and you found your exports under threat by an energy-exporting enemy, what would you do?
That is the situation facing Russian President Vladimir Putin, head of a regime wholly dependent on keeping the pumps flowing to oil-hungry Europe. His answer is becoming clear: cripple the U.S. from the inside.
Gazprom, Russia’s state-owned energy giant, provides millions in tax revenues to the Russian government through foreign sales of oil and natural gas, resources abundant in the Slavic state. The company provides 30 percent of the natural gas consumed by the European Union. Oil is clearly vital to Putin’s interests and Russia’s solvency, so why is the state propaganda machine Russia Today (RT) virulently anti-fracking?
In 2015 alone, writes National Review, RT “produced over 60 anti-fracking stories,” calling the innovative extraction method “dangerous.” This is bunk, of course – fracking has brought energy prices to historic lows and does not pose a threat to anyone’s health – but the spin is part of a greater strategy in Moscow to sabotage American energy production, and thereby stymie competition with Russian fuel in European markets.
To that end, congressional Republicans are demanding the U.S. launch an investigation into Klein, Ltd. – an offshore shell company allegedly using Russian money to finance environmentalist groups in America. According to a letter written by Texas congressional representatives Lamar Smith and Randy Weber to the U.S. Treasury Department:
...entities connected to the Russian government are using a shell company registered in Bermuda, Klein Ltd. (Klein), to funnel tens of millions of dollars to a U.S.-based 501(c)(3) private foundation, the Sea Change Foundation (Sea Change). This money appears to move in the form of anonymous donations. Sea Change then passes the money originating in Russia to various U.S. 501(c)(3) organizations such as the Sierra Club, League of Conservation Voters Education Fund, and others. These funds are dispersed [sic] as grants that will be used to execute a political agenda driven by Russian entities. The purpose of this circuitous exchange of foreign funds is to shield the source of the money.
While it is not clear how knowledgeable Left-wing groups like the Sierra Club really are about this financing, it presents a serious threat to American security. “If you connect the dots,” Rep. Smith adds in a subsequent statement, “it is clear that Russia is funding U.S. environmental groups in an effort to suppress our domestic oil and gas industry, specifically hydraulic fracking [fracking].”
If environmentalists are successful in their idiotic war on fracking – in reality, a campaign against the poor, anyone who eats, and anyone who drives – they will devastate America’s oil-exporting industry. This has serious implications in foreign affairs. Without access to American fuel, Europe will be forced to explore costly and ineffective alternate fuels, or face its reality as a virtual slave of the Kremlin. Either way, that is a risk the United States cannot afford.
The stakes could not be higher for Putin. If he loses Europe’s business, Russia’s tax revenues will inevitably collapse. Without the support of oil money, he cannot sustain a military campaign in Syria and Ukraine. In short, black gold is the lifeblood of the Russian nationalist dream; it cannot survive without it.
President Trump has already ushered in the first shipment of liquefied natural gas to eastern Europe (delivered to Poland during his July trip there); now it is time to ramp up the process.