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GOP Lawmaker Demands Biden Investigate Russia’s Backing Of US Climate Groups

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Republican Rep. Jim Banks of Indiana is demanding the Biden administration investigate allegations that Russia had backed far-left environmental groups in a letter sent late last week. [bold, links added]

GOP lawmakers have been sounding the alarm on such claims since at least 2017, though they gained fresh urgency after Russian President Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine in late February.

The unprovoked and brutal attack threw the global energy supply chain into chaos, with the price of fuel reaching crippling record-highs in the US and Europe in recent days.

The invasion also revamped the Biden administration’s push toward clean energy as a more permanent and long-term solution to depending on unsavory international actors for oil.

Moscow’s aim in allegedly funneling cash to green groups is to undercut US fossil fuel production while maintaining Russia’s, whose economy depends more heavily on energy exports. The massive country is among the top oil and gas producers in the world.

Banks’ Friday letter, which is also signed by Reps. Bill Johnson of Ohio and Ted Budd of North Carolina, points to a 2015 Washington Free Beacon report that alleges a Bermuda-based shell company with ties to Russian oil interests transferred $23 million to California group Sea Change Foundation in 2010 and 2011, citing IRS tax documents.

Sea Change also reportedly donated money to well-known organizations like the Sierra Club, the Natural Resource Defense Council (NRDC), the League of Conservation Voters (LCV), and the Center for American Progress during those years.

‘Russia spent millions promoting anti-energy policies and politicians in the U.S.,’ Banks told Fox News, who first published the letter.

‘Now, thanks to Biden’s war on domestic energy, U.S. oil production has dropped 10%, pushing up prices and enriching and emboldening Putin before he invaded Ukraine.

‘Unlike the Russia hoax, Putin’s malign influence on our energy sector is real and deserves further investigation.’

Banks’ letter also highlights a private 2014 speech given by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in which she says: ‘We were even up against phony environmental groups, and I’m a big environmentalist, but these were funded by the Russians.’

A similar effort is underway by a wider group of House Republicans, who directly sent letters to the Sierra Club, NRDC, and LCV demanding they disclose whether their leaders are ‘are aware of concerns that Sea Change may be a conduit for Russian funding.

‘Publicly available information suggests that Russian President Vladimir Putin funds certain environmental non-governmental organizations (e-NGOs) around the world to increase fear among other nations’ use of [fracking] to ensure dependence on Russian gas,’ the March 10 letter reads.

All three groups vehemently disputed the allegation they take Russian money when asked by Fox.

In 2017, then-House Rep. Lamar Smith and Rep. Randy Weber, both Republicans, wrote to Trump Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin asking him to investigate reports of a Russian influence campaign using cash funneled to Sea Change.

Speculation about the Kremlin’s role in overseas environmental groups was sparked within the international community even earlier.

Former NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen told The Guardian in 2014, ‘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 organizations.’

They were ‘environmental organizations working against shale gas – to maintain European dependence on imported Russian gas.

The European Union depends on Russia for nearly half of its energy needs, putting the international bloc in a precarious position of trying to punish Putin while scrambling for ways to decrease its reliance on Moscow’s oil and gas.

President Joe Biden used Europe’s vulnerable position with Russia as justification to ‘accelerate’ the transition to green fuel when he was announcing a ban on Moscow’s energy imports last week.

His administration has been at the helm of a push to expand electric vehicle use throughout the US, including setting a goal for half of all new vehicles sold in the US to be electric by 2030.

‘I’ve had numerous conversations over the last three months with our European friends of how they have to wean themselves off of Russia — Russian oil. It’s just not — it’s just not tenable,’ Biden said on March 8.

‘It should motivate us to accelerate the transition to clean energy. This is a perspective, as I said, that our European allies share and the — a future where together we can achieve greater independence.’

He added: ‘If we do what we can, it will mean that no one has to worry about the price at the gas pump in the future. That’ll mean tyrants like Putin won’t be able to use fossil fuels as weapons against other nations.’

It runs counter to Republicans pushing Biden to ramp up domestic oil and gas production instead, claiming it’s the only way to achieve American energy independence.

Read more at Daily Mail

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