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Fracking and its environmental effects need to be carefully studied, and we need to be assured that the people studying this issue are unbiased, fact-based, and honest. It would also be helpful to know that the people who oppose fracking are not in bed with Russian oil and gas money.

A labyrinthine web of financial relationships has recently been unwound sufficiently to reveal that millions of dollars are being funneled by Russian oil tycoons first into a firm in Bermuda, and then onto American environmental groups who oppose fracking.

Wakefield Quin is a Bermuda-based law firm that lists as many as twenty firms and investment funds that are tied to the Russian government as its clients. Wakefield shares its address with Klein Ltd., a Bermudan firm that has transferred $23 million to environmental groups in the U.S. One of Klein’s directors in Nicholas Hoskins, who is also a director at a hedge fund that invests heavily in Russian oil and gas companies.

Klein’s money, which fairly obviously is Russian oil and gas money, has gone to The Sierra Club, The Natural Resource Defense Council, Food and Water Watch, The Center for American Progress, and the League of Conservation Voters. All of these organizations are committed environmental groups that oppose fracking.

All of these groups also have reason to know that one of their biggest benefactors is a Bermudan shell corporation. And while a few enterprising journalists (at the AP and New York Times) became inquisitive about the sources of this money, these organizations have preferred a Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy.

Going green seems to mean going for the green.

The California green group Sea Change Foundation received over 40% of its budget from Klein in 2010 and 2011. No questions asked. It was Sea Change, in fact, that received the $23 million that has been traced so far, which Sea Change then laundered to the better-known environmental groups listed above.

Inside Philanthropy, a trade publication covering, of course, philanthropy, noted that Sea Change’s “skeletal staff quietly shovels tens of millions of dollars out the door annually to combat climate change. And that’s pretty much all it does.” And that is a comment from a friend. Inside Philanthropy gave Sea Change an award for the “laser focus” of its grant-making last year.

The Russian bankrolling of the anti-fracking movement in the U.S. is mirrored by a wave of Russian-backed and occasionally violent protests in East Europe and Romania, aimed at deterring fracking operations in those countries. Those protests were successful, and there are now no current plans to proceed with the kind of oil drilling that could wean East Europe, and ultimately West Europe as well, from dependence on Russian oil and gas.

Sincere American environmentalists deserve an honest environmental movement. The decision by Al Gore, the ultimate poster man-child for environmentalism, to sell his cable broadcasting interests to Al Jazeera, a Middle-Eastern news organization up to its eyeballs in Arab oil money, for $500 million (likely well above the market price, by the way) was bad enough.

This new evidence strongly suggests that whatever everyday "civilian" environmentalists might think, the activists are perfectly happy to take money from oil companies that have utterly horrible environmental records, so long as that money can be used to oppose American oil companies. Why?

Is their goal protecting the environment, or reflexively attacking America?

 

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