The much-anticipated intelligence report which concluded that Russia tried to influence the recent presidential election had another startling, yet widely ignored, conclusion: The Russian government promotes anti-fracking propaganda in the United States.
Russia accomplishes this through its "news" network, RT, which promotes the Kremlin's interests around the world. The report, issued by the Director of National Intelligence, states bluntly:
RT runs anti-fracking programming, highlighting environmental issues and the impacts on public health. This is likely reflective of the Russian Government's concern about the impact of fracking and US natural gas production on the global energy market and the potential challenges to Gazprom's profitability.
The science on fracking is pretty clear. Compared to burning coal or oil, natural gas is preferable for the planet. (Ideally, U.S. energy policy should focus on expanding nuclear power instead of fossil fuels.) Concerns over methane or other chemical leaks can be ameliorated with better engineering practices. Similarly, any worries over earthquakes could be addressed by injecting wastewater into the ground in places where there are no preexisting faults.
Additionally, fracking is clearly in America's national interest. There is broad political consensus that the United States would be better off relying on ourselves and our closest allies (like Canada) for energy, rather than on Middle Eastern countries who can be only charitably described as "frenemies."
In other words, compared to the status quo, fracking is good for the planet and bad for our enemies. Russia's economy, which is largely dependent on exporting fossil fuels, could face collapse if oil and gas prices fall too far. That is why RT is fearmongering about fracking; it wants to decrease the global supply of fossil fuels (which keeps prices artificially high) as part of a strategy to keep Russia's economy alive.
Thus, environmentalists like Joe Romm and the protesters who block fracking and the construction of pipelines, such as Keystone XL and Dakota Access, are serving as "useful idiots" for Vladimir Putin. They falsely believe they are doing good for America and the planet when, in reality, they are only doing good for the Kremlin.
Worse, some anti-fracking protesters are not merely useful idiots but are willing puppets of the Putin regime. In 2014, the New York Times reported on suspicions that the Russian government was funding anti-fracking protests in Romania and Lithuania, countries which are reliant on Russia for fossil fuels.
In a recent interview, President Obama correctly observed that "Vladimir Putin is not on our team." Neither are anti-fracking protesters.