On July 25th, the Trump administration’s US Bureau of Land Management submitted a rescission to eliminate an Obama era policy that required companies to disclose the chemicals used for fracking on public and tribal lands claiming that current fracking regulation places too heavy a burden on the oil and gas industries.
The submission comes as right-wing US groups are propagating a conspiracy theory that US environmental groups opposed to fracking are backed by Russian money. The theory goes that Russia’s aim is to undermine the US petrochemical industry by underwriting campaigners who draw attention to the risks posed by hydraulic fracturing of shale gas to fresh water supply in the USA.
A 24th July article in The Daily Beast, exposes the allegation by outlying Republican groups that “Russian agents are promoting fear, uncertainty, and doubt regarding fracking—and, in subsequent iterations of the conspiracy, climate change—in order to promote their own petroleum interests…the less the U.S. and Europe fracks, the more Russian oil they have to buy”. The Daily Beast is often described as a liberal publication.
According to The Daily Beast this right-wing theory is being spread in the context of documented Russian interference in 2016’s US Presidential election in favor of Donald J. Trump, and numerous current investigations into that interference, and is being viewed by most commentators as a distraction mechanism.
On the other hand, a July 16th article by right-wing media outlet The Washington Times quotes Republican Congressman Lamar Smith as saying “If you connect the dots, it is clear that Russia is funding US environmental groups in an effort to suppress our domestic oil and gas industry, specifically hydraulic fracking.”
Smith and fellow Republican Representative Randy Weber wrote on June 29th this year to US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin requesting “a full and complete investigation” (of Russian funding of US environmental groups). This letter, in turn, quoted, as a source, an October 2016 article in The Washington Times.
Food and Water Watch describes fracking as “a destructive process that corporations including Halliburton, BP and ExxonMobil use to extract oil and natural gas from rock formations deep underground. They drill a well and inject millions of gallons of toxic fracking fluid – a mix of water, sand and harsh fracking chemicals – at extreme enough pressure to fracture the rock and release the oil or gas”, concluding that (fracking) “is an unsafe process that harms our drinking water and health…the push for fracking hurts communities and worsens climate change”.