Guest essay by Eric Worrall
The House Science Committee has released a report detailing how Russia has been attempting to sabotage US domestic fossil fuel production, to promote their own fossil fuel exports, by stirring up climate activist opposition to US domestic fossil fuel production.
Republicans Accuse Russia of Using Social Media to Roil U.S. Energy Policy
By Ari Natter and Alan Bjerga
2 March 2018, 01:25 GMT+10 Updated on 2 March 2018, 03:56 GMT+10
The same Russian operatives accused of manipulating the 2016 U.S. presidential election used inflammatory social media posts to disrupt U.S. energy policy, including inciting environmentalists to protest against pipeline projects, House Republicans said in a report released Thursday.
The report, released by the House Science Committee, said it found evidence Russian-sponsored agents used Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to suppress the research and development of fossil fuels and stymie efforts to expand the use of natural gas and fracking.
“This report reveals that Russian agents created and spread propaganda on U.S. social media platforms in an obvious attempt to influence the U.S. energy market,” Texas Representative Lamar Smith, the chairman of the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee, said in a statement. “Russian agents attempted to manipulate Americans’ opinions about pipelines, fossil fuels, fracking and climate change.”
According to the report, Hillary Clinton was fully aware of Russian efforts;
… Former Secretary of State and then-presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, with access to intelligence reports, made a private speech in 2014, according to documents from WikiLeaks, which included statements about the struggles of dealing with Russian-backed environmental groups. According to a media report, Secretary Clinton said the following: “We [the State Department and the U.S.] were up against Russia pushing oligarchs and others to buy media. 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, ‘Oh that pipeline, that fracking, that whatever will be a problem for you,’ and a lot of the money supporting that message was coming from Russia.”
To that end, the Kremlin is attempting to make, as Senator Cardin’s report states, “useful idiots” of unwitting environmental groups and activists in furtherance of its energy influence operations.33 Although this is not a new tactic in the Kremlin’s playbook, it has been adapted to account for modern technological advancements like the Internet and social media. Throughout history, the Kremlin has engaged and manipulated unwitting individuals to disseminate propaganda in furtherance of its global agenda.34 The Kremlin continues to employ this tactic, which has become substantially more effective with the proliferation of the Internet and social media. By leveraging the sincerely held views and beliefs of unwitting agents, the Kremlin is able to exploit polarized issues in American democracy to influence action in furtherance of its agenda.
Read More: House Science Committee Report
The Bloomberg reporter contacted several people who appear skeptical of the claimed extent or aims of Russian propaganda efforts.
Fossil fuel exports account for around 16% of Russian GDP, 52% of government revenue and 70% of Russian exports, so it makes sense that Russian propaganda efforts would be focussed on protecting their one trick economy.