Tags: russia | congress | energy | natural gas | environmentalists

Russia Interfered With US Energy Markets, Congress Reports

Russia Interfered With US Energy Markets, Congress Reports
(Anatoly Fedotov/Dreamstime.com)

Tuesday, 31 July 2018 01:19 PM Current | Bio | Archive

Russian interference in U.S. elections has been widely reported and the recent focus of much public discussion. However, flying under the radar, the Kremlin has also been very active in pushing policies designed to destabilize American energy markets.

Congress recently published a report which found evidence of the Kremlin’s efforts to influence our energy sector.

Russia tried to suppress American exploration for fossil fuels and to stymie the expansion of drilling for natural gas. The less natural gas we have, the more Europeans rely on Russian gas and the more the Russians can charge their customers.

Russia has funded environmental groups with the sole design to antagonize American energy companies and thwart natural gas exploration. This was confirmed by former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, in a 2014 speech. That speech — also a subject of Russian hacking — was exposed by WikiLeaks. In it, Clinton was clear: “We were even up against phony environmental groups, and I’m a big environmentalist, but these were funded by the Russians to stand against any effort.”

The primary culprit in these underhanded efforts is the Russian government’s Internet Research Agency (IRA) based in Saint Petersburg. The U.S. intelligence community identified the IRA and other Russian media operations as pushing Kremlin-backed interests through manipulating political perceptions on American media platforms. The Congressional report found: “Between 2015 and 2017, there were an estimated 9,097 Russian posts or tweets regarding U.S. energy policy or a current energy event on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.”

Russian operatives have appeared to manipulate social media discussions and foster political discord on issues such as environmental safety by targeting fracking (the process of injecting water underground to release natural gas). Kremlin interests are aware of how the American political system operates and how to influence voters and constituency groups. These activities are designed to leverage citizens and press them into supporting existing anti-U.S. energy efforts in order to produce advantages for Russian energy companies.

Keep in mind, as pointed by the Congressional report, the Russians at times took both sides of energy and environmental debates; clearly, they do this to exacerbate tensions and use cultural issues to drive wedges in our society. But the report found the majority of posts came down on the side of the energy debate most favorable to Russia.

One potential remedy to weaken Russian influence efforts would be for Congress to strengthen laws designed to prevent this type of interference. More scrutiny from the U.S. government is the only way to abate this problem. Specific actions could involve the Congress strengthening the Foreign Agents Registration Act, which would require all Americans — including environmental groups — to disclose foreign connections or report foreign communications. No doubt, the executive branch of government needs to be more involved in this issue. The recent announcement by the Treasury Department that it would loosen financial reporting requirements for nonprofits will only increase the risk of foreign involvement.

Regardless of politics, we must establish a standard by which we attack foreign influence over our domestic life. This Russian interference with U.S. business affects consumers and it affects American jobs. It is dishonest and problematic for any U.S. nonprofit or political organization to be influenced by a foreign power that seeks to manipulate the well-intentioned views of Americans simply to drive a foreign agenda.

It is time policy makers in Congress and members of the press pay closer attention to the "meddling" that no one is talking about: Russian interference in our domestic energy markets. We must protect our country from enemies who seek to do us harm — attacks on our democracy or our businesses cannot be tolerated.

Christopher Neiweem is the Founder of Neiweem Group, an Iraq War Veteran, and Political Strategist. He has testified in both the U.S. House of Representatives and U.S. Senate as an expert witness numerous times in front many congressional committees. These topics range from defense, veterans, commerce, education, and military personnel. He regularly appears on Fox News Channel and other news shows as a guest commentator and has worked on several political campaigns. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.

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Russian interference in U.S. elections has been widely reported and the recent focus of much public discussion. However, flying under the radar, the Kremlin has also been very active in pushing policies designed to destabilize American energy markets.
russia, congress, energy, natural gas, environmentalists
Tuesday, 31 July 2018 01:19 PM
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