House Republicans demand answers from environmental groups over allegation of collusion with Russia

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House Energy and Commerce Committee Republicans are calling on certain environmental groups to disclose their ties to a non-governmental organization which is, according to the committee, reportedly used by Russian President Vladimir Putin to make an impact on American energy production.

Three environmental groups – the League of Conservation Voters (LCV), the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), and the Sierra Club – reportedly have ties to the San Francisco-based NGO environmental organization called the Sea Change Foundation, according to Republicans on the committee.

Russian President Vladimir Putin  
(Yuri Kochetkov/Pool)

In a letter sent to each of the three groups, Republicans inquired about the funding the groups have received from Sea Change since 2006 and called for disclosure of whether the groups “are aware of concerns that Sea Change may be a conduit for Russian funding.”

“Provided the public reporting of Putin’s dark money influence in Europe and the concerns surrounding similar efforts in the United States, we write today to explore your connections with Sea Change,” the Republicans stated in the letter. “Any action by President Putin, the Russian government, or Putin’s allies to undermine American energy security must be addressed.”

In addition, the Republicans asked the groups if they have received funds or took a particular action after a request “from the Russian government or anyone connected with the Russian government.”

An oil pump jack in a field with wind turbines in Corpus Christi, Texas, U.S., Friday, Feb. 19, 2021.
(Eddie Seal/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

All three of the groups, according to Republicans on the committee, were identified as top recipients of Sea Change grants since 2006. The letter was signed by more than 20 Congressional Republicans, including Energy and Commerce Committee Republican leader Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Wash., and ranking member Rep. Fred Upton, R-Mich.

In a response shared with Fox News, Bob Deans, the director of strategic engagement for the NRDC, suggested the “allegations are false” and are “rooted in a smear campaign.”

“We receive no funding from the governments of Russia or China,” Deans said. “We answer to our independent leadership, and we don’t do the bidding of any government – foreign or otherwise – in our work to advocate for commonsense environmental protections in the public interest. These allegations are rooted in a smear campaign orchestrated nearly a decade ago by fossil fuel interests and a right-wing think tank. They only serve then, as now, as a distraction.”

Similarly, a statement provided to Fox News from the LCV said the “story is completely false and has been put to rest for years.”

“We have no connections to Russia, or China, and have been an effective advocate for environmental protection for over 50 years,” the group stated. “These false and poorly researched allegations are rooted in a nearly 10-year-old right-wing think tank and fossil fuel industry-funded smear campaign that gets revived every few years to serve as a distraction.”

Natali Sevriukova reacts next to her house following a rocket attack the city of Kyiv, Ukraine, Friday, Feb. 25, 2022.
((AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti))

In a statement shared with Fox News, Melinda Pierce, Sierra Club’s legislative director, concluded the allegation of collusion is a “false conspiracy theory.”

“This false conspiracy theory, invented by the same deceitful front groups paid to do polluters’ and big tobacco’s dirty work, has been repeatedly debunked over its nearly 10-year existence,” Pierce said. “The Sierra Club has no connections to Russia or China, and proudly fights for clean energy and climate action because this is what our planet requires, our families deserve, and what the overwhelming majority of Americans across the country demand.”

Fox News did not receive an immediate response from the Sea Change Foundation.

Gasoline prices in America hit a record high this week amid Russia’s continued invasion into Ukraine and the announcement that the United States would suspend purchases of Russian oil. As of Thursday, the national average for a gallon of regular gasoline reached $4.318, according to AAA data. Prices surpassed the $4 mark Sunday for the first time in 14 years.

The Republican members have requested a response to their questions by March 25.

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