Give Vladimir Putin credit: the man is ambitious. As if sowing a divide across Europe, subjugating Crimea and perhaps manipulating the US presidential election wasn’t enough, there’s now mounting evidence that Russia – led, as always, by Mr. Putin, a Machiavellian caricature if there ever was one – is working to discredit hydraulic fracturing.
That Russia benefits from European dependence on its state-owned Gazprom’s production is well-known. Similarly, it’s clear that North American exports of liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Europe would lift Russia’s boot from Europe’s neck, if not fully restore its supply of oxygen. And yet across the continent, as social media lights up with anti-fracking propaganda, countries have been frightened into banning fracking – a practice that ensure their own energy dependence.
Lamar Smith, the Texas Republican who chairs the science and technology committee, wants to know what’s behind that. He’s ordering Facebook and Twitter to turn over any evidence that Russia is, or has in the past, paid for any covert anti-fracking or anti-fossil fuel propaganda.
Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump is months into a tirade, bloviating on the regular that evidence of Russia’s meddling in elections and conspiring with members of his team is a “hoax.” Meetings between his son, son-in-law, campaign chairman and Russian agents were intended to help little Russian children get adopted by Western families, he insists. Never mind that “adoption” might as well be a code word for quid pro quo about lifting sanctions on Russia in exchange for some sort of benefit for the President, his campaign or his family.
This disconnect between Trump and Smith on Russian meddling is key. Smith has proudly declared that he was the first member of Congress to support Trump’s bid for president – and that’s not fake news, according to Politifact. They checked it out and sure enough, his name was on a check in early 2016.
Say what you will about a climate change-denying Republican from Texas, but the man is challenging two multi-billion-dollar companies, a country whose government is known to silence “enemies” and a president who doesn’t tend to react well to being challenged by anyone.
It’s no secret that controversy has accompanied the rise of hydraulic fracturing in North America. At least one high-profile feature film, Gasland, used the star power of Matt Damon to bring fears of hydraulic fracturing into the mainstream. Of course,
Say what you will about industry greed, but if it were true that fracking will – as a rule – set your water on fire, oil and gas executives wouldn’t have a business left.