from the claims-but-no-evidence dept.
Andrew Higgins reports in the NYT that Romanian officials including the prime minister point to a mysteriously well-financed and well-organized campaign of protests over fracking in Europe and are pointing their fingers at Russia's Gazprom, a state-controlled energy giant, that has a clear interest in preventing countries dependent on Russian natural gas from developing their own alternative supplies of energy and preserving a lucrative market for itself — and a potent foreign policy tool for the Kremlin.
“Russia, as part of their sophisticated information and disinformation operations, engaged actively with so-called non-governmental organizations (NGOs) — environmental organizations working against shale gas — to maintain dependence on imported Russian gas,” says NATO’s former secretary general, Anders Fogh Rasmussen.
A wave of protest against fracking began three years ago in Bulgaria, a country highly dependent on Russian energy. Faced with a sudden surge of street protests by activists, many of whom had previously shown little interest in environmental issues, the Bulgarian government in 2012 banned fracking and canceled a shale gas license issued earlier to Chevron.
Russia itself has generally shown scant concern for environmental protection and has a long record of harassing and even jailing environmentalists who stage protests. On fracking, however, Russian authorities have turned enthusiastically green, with Putin declaring last year that fracking “poses a huge environmental problem.” Places that have allowed it, he said, “no longer have water coming out of their taps but a blackish slime.” For their part Green groups have been swift to attack Rasmussen’s views, saying that they were not involved in any alleged Russian attempts to discredit the technology, and were instead opposed to it on the grounds of environmental sustainability. “The idea we’re puppets of Putin is so preposterous that you have to wonder what they’re smoking over at Nato HQ,” says Greenpeace, which has a history of antagonism with the Russian government, which arrested several of its activists on a protest in the Arctic last year.