New Congressional report demonstrates Lamar Smith and Russian hackers both doing their part to ratchet up the race to the bottom.
Marisol Cortez & Greg Harman
Remember when Russia Today, DBA RT America, contacted Deceleration for permission to use video we shot of Native-led pipeline resistance in West Texas? Yeah, back when we said, “Uh, no”? (See: “A Funny Little Story About RT America.”)
Well, today, the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on Science, Space, and Technology chaired by U.S. Rep. Lamar Smith released a report (embedded below) which would seem to bear out the tingling spidey sense tripped when that former Sarah Palin talkshow producer hit up our FB inbox with RT’s request.
Entitled “Russian Attempts to Influence U.S. Domestic Energy Markets by Exploiting Social Media,” the report claims to demonstrate “how the Kremlin manipulated various groups in an attempt to carry out its geopolitical agenda, particularly with respect to domestic energy policy.”
You mean this?
The committee’s Republicans allege that “Russian-sponsored agents funneled money to U.S. environmental organizations in an attempt to portray energy companies in a negative way and disrupt domestic energy markets.”
Basically, it’s what you read last year, only this time with images of the fake tweets we already knew about.
The promised punch connecting environmental groups with Russian money never lands. We were prepared for that, since Smith has claimed before that the conspiracy is so deep there is “little to no paper trail.”
What today’s report cites instead of new facts is a letter written by Smith last year cherrypicking from several interesting sources, including the Committee on Foreign Relations, which itself acknowledges that two alleged disinfo sources, Russia Today and Sputnik, “target a diverse audience: both far-right and far-left elements of Western societies.”
Then he cites an online outlet you’ve almost certainly never heard of that builds its own case around material provided by the public relations firm Environmental Policy Alliance.
Sourcewatch describes the EPA (get it?) as “a front group operated by the PR firm Berman & Co. The firm operates a network of dozens of front groups, attack-dog web sites, and alleged think tanks that work to counteract minimum wage campaigns, keep wages low for restaurant workers, and to block legislation on food safety, secondhand cigarette smoke, drunk driving, and more.”
Meanwhile, Did Lamar reach out to those groups he alleges of this wrongdoing? No. And those smeared have a thing to two to say about that.
What the report proves is how rabidly engaged both Lamar and the Petrostate known as Russia are in this “race to the bottom” for the crude stuff damning our cherished biosphere to climate collapse.
The report takes pains to portray environmentalists, in particular anti-fracking and anti-extraction activists, as “useful idiots” eager to take Russian cash. This makes perfect sense once we recognize Lamar, perennial winner of the Unicorn Award, for the consistency, stridency, and fancifulness of his climate denialism.
So, to the resounding ¡NO WAY JOSÉ! with which Deceleration met RT America’s request for pipeline footage, so must we say the same to Lamar Smith’s assertions.
Lamar and Co. certainly haven’t added much to the conclusions we drew in our original post: We can fight extraction interests and build climate justice just fine without industry shills and corrupt pols of any nation.
Marisol Cortez and Greg Harman are co-editors of Deceleration.