Big Green's collusion with Russia on energy issues

Kevin Mooney:
Congressional investigators have identified the San Francisco-based Sea Change Foundation as a major conduit of Russian financial support for U.S. environmental groups. The “paperless money trail” that flows from Russian President Vladimir Putin’s government into a shell company in Bermuda and from there into the Sea Change Foundation has been the subject of several reports from the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology.
Rep. Lamar Smith, R-Texas, who chairs the committee, has warned against Russian efforts to spread propaganda through compliant environmental advocacy groups that received grants from the Sea Change Foundation that ultimately originated from foreign sources. As I previously reported, the Russian motivations are evident since U.S. natural gas exports threaten Putin’s oil and gas monopoly in Eastern Europe. What’s a little less evident is the growing long-term threat of China, which has also cultivated close ties with many of the same environmental activists tied in with the Sea Change Foundation. There is, for example, the Natural Resources Defense Council that continuously steers lawsuits against the U.S. military that work to China’s advantage. The NRDC is also among the top recipients of Sea Change funding.
Rep. Rob Bishop, R-Utah, who chairs the House Committee on Natural Resources, recently sent letters to the NRDC and other green groups asking them if they were in compliance with the Foreign Agents Registration Act, which requires individuals and organizations working on behalf of foreign governments to disclose these relationships. The questions Bishop raised in those letters are applicable to a September hearing before the Pennsylvania Senate Environmental Resources and Energy Committee in Harrisburg that probed into “Foreign Influence on Natural Gas Development in PA.”
Many of the environmental groups identified as top recipients of Sea Change Foundation money are active in Pennsylvania, so Harrisburg lawmakers are understandably concerned about the impact well-funded narrow special interests could have on energy policy. Thomas Murphy, director of the Penn State Marcellus Center for Outreach and Research, told state senators during his testimony that Pennsylvania is now the top U.S. producer of shale gas. The Marcellus and Utica shale gas resources that cut across parts of the commonwealth are providing 35 percent of the U.S. total dry natural gas production, Murphy points out. If you’re a Russian oligarch looking to suppress America’s natural gas revolution, Pennsylvania is a place where you will want to concentrate resources.

But, of course, the problem of Russian interference in the American energy sector is not limited to one state. It blossoms in the southeast, which climate activists see as ground zero for their anti-fossil fuel campaign — and Russia is only too happy to oblige.

Tracing the vast sums flowing out of Sea Change through environmental clearinghouses such as the Energy Foundation and the Tides Foundation, a nonprofit group known as the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy, emerges as a key boots-on-the-ground beneficiary. The Tennessee-based group gets a large portion of its budget directly from the Energy Foundation, which works hand-in-glove with Sea Change to fund and promote its policy priorities. In 2010, SACE received $2.3 million or 61 percent of its annual income from the Energy Foundation. Five years later, it was still receiving more than 25 percent of its annual income from that single source.

SACE’s activities cover the entire southeast, but its grants from the Energy Foundation have specifically been earmarked for Florida projects at least 16 times. The climate crusaders are all-in to make Florida their main target. Conveniently, environmentalists’ efforts to oppose the state’s Sabal Trail Pipeline, for example, play straight into Russia’s goals of suppressing U.S. domestic energy production and exports. Maybe that’s why Russia was so aggressive about backing and promoting Sabal Trail protests.
 The Russians and the anti-energy left have a common interest in reducing and eliminating US fossil fuel production.  They both want to hamper energy production and transportation.  The Russians would love to see the US go to inefficient alternative energy.  It would be consistent with their long-term strategic interest in weakening the US and its allies.


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