Democrats playing into Putin's hands when it comes to US energy production: experts

FOX Business Flash top headlines for April 8

Here are your FOX Business Flash top headlines for April 8.

Russian President Vladimir Putin is using anti-fracking "disinformation" to weaken American energy, according to one expert, and attempts by Democrats to ban fracking only help Russia, whether it's intentional or not.

Responding to a question posed by Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash. on April 6, asking if Russia promoted and funded anti-fracking propaganda in both the United States and Europe during a U.S. House of Representatives subcommittee hearing, Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster said "absolutely."

"Absolutely. The evidence is overwhelming," McMaster said. "This is Russia’s effort to portray fracking as unsafe and to do so to keep their coercive power on the energy market and on Europe in particular and the world."

Rebekah Koffler, a former Defense Intelligence Agency officer and author of "Putin's Playbook: Russia's Secret Plan to Defeat America," told FOX Business that she agrees with McMaster's analysis, and said that Russia runs "covert influence operations" to attempt to portray fracking as harmful, which is a message that resonates with people in the U.S. and in Europe.

"They have been working with the environmentalist organizations. Basically, they're running what we call covert influence operation and disinformation operations to promote green energy and to portray fracking as harmful. And they know that this message will resonate with those U.S. audiences, certain U.S. audiences, obviously, and European audiences," Koffler said.

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FILE – In this Jan. 16, 2015, file photo, pumpjacks operate in Bakersfield, Calif.  (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File / AP Newsroom)

Koffler said that the ultimate missions of these operations is to promote American and European dependency on Russian energy.

Their claims are backed up by several federal government reports which state that Russia is attempting to stop the expansion of natural gas in the United States.

A report by the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space, and Technology Republicans states that documents produced by social media companies "confirmed that Russian agents were exploiting American social media platforms in an effort to disrupt domestic energy markets, suppress research and development of fossil-fuels, and stymie efforts to expand the use of natural gas."

The report states that Russia was exploiting social media in order to "disrupt U.S. energy markets," since American power when it comes to energy "presents a significant threat to Russian energy interests."

"This adversely affects the Kremlin’s ability to leverage Eastern Europe’s reliance on their energy and their ability to carry out their geopolitical agenda," the report states.

The subcommittee report pointed to a document from the Office of the Director of National Intelligence which states that Russian-state sponsored media such as RT run "anti-fracking programming, highlighting environmental issues and the impacts on public health."

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FILE – In this Feb. 6, 2015, file photo, protesters prepare to take down a makeshift oil derrick that was set up in front of the California State Office Building to protest fracking in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu, File / AP Newsroom)

"This is likely reflective of the Russian Government's concern about the impact of fracking and U.S. natural gas production on the global energy market and the potential challenges to Gazprom's profitability," the report states.

As Russia has waged their information warfare on Americans through social media, 21 Democrats in the U.S. House of Representatives sponsored a bill in 2020 that would ban "all fracking on onshore and offshore land by 2025."

Whether it's intentional or not, Koffler says that by promoting anti-fracking, actions like this only help Russia in their mission to keep America dependent on Russian energy.

"The result is that this will benefit Putin," Koffler said. "Absolutely."

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a meeting with young award-winning culture professionals via videoconference in Moscow, Russia, Friday, March 25, 2022. Russia is demanding payment in rubles for its natural gas exports to Europe. And that is (Mikhail Klimentyev, Sputnik, Kremlin Pool Photo via AP, file / AP Images)

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Tyler Duvelius, director of external affairs at the Conservative Energy Network, told FOX Business that he thinks some Democrats are playing into Russia's energy strategy by claiming that fracking is unsafe and should be moved away from.

"If America wants to remain the top dog and remain competitive on the global stage, we have to be prioritizing all forms of American energy production that includes natural gas, but it also includes other sources of energy like wind, solar and nuclear, hydrogen," Duvelius said. "Really, the more energy we can produce here in America, the more we can ship overseas, and that strengthens America and the foreign policy arena."

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