Banks wants probe of alleged Putin-backed green groups’ influence on Biden decision-making

The Republicans have big plans for when they take back Congress in November…that is, if they take it back.

And the latest news on that front is that Representative Jim Banks (R-IN) says he will call for a Congressional investigation into U.S. environmental groups receiving Russian funding. The issue has already prompted demands for an investigation by Republicans on the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Banks previously signed his name to a letter to U.S. Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, asking her to conduct an inquiry into any role that Russian “dark money” might play in the funding of domestic environmental groups with the aim of undermining U.S. energy development.

Banks spoke with, where he laid out his plans.

“When we get the majority next January,” he explained, “I hope that we call these groups—force these groups to testify before Congress. We need to force these groups and their leaders to come before these committees and testify and explain their entanglements with our adversaries like Russia, and the money that they’ve received…that puts Russia first and America last.”

Among the groups likely to be called to testify are such prominent environmental organizations as the Sierra Club and Sea Change. Multiple committees, including the House Judiciary and Oversight panels, would hold hearings to ascertain whether these groups receive Russian funds to influence the energy policies of the Biden administration and undermine national security.

“Groups like the Sierra Club have an enormous amount of influence on the Biden administration,” Banks argued. “So it’s embarrassing for the Biden administration and for these groups to explain that they’re being funded by Russian oligarchs who profit off of America’s oil and gas industry getting cut off.”

Banks also wants any environmental groups receiving Kremlin funding to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act (FARA), in the interests of full transparency. In the letter to Secretary Yellen, Banks and his cosigners cite a 2015 report in the Washington Free Beacon detailing allegations that a shadowy Bermudan shell company, with ties to Russian oil interests, was used to transfer money to U.S. anti-fracking environmental groups, including Sea Change.

The renewed focus on Russian influence over U.S. green groups comes in the wake of President Vladimir Putin’s brutal invasion of Ukraine. The unprovoked military action has sent oil prices skyrocketing, with no relief in sight. Meanwhile, the Biden administration’s energy policies have only worsened the situation, by pushing a lesser version of the infamous “Green New Deal” at the worst possible time.

The pivot away from developing domestic energy sources, and toward sourcing oil from unfriendly foreign regimes, has put the United States and its allies in an unenviable strategic position when it comes to countering Russia’s aggressive actions.

This is why, if returned to power in November, the GOP intends to investigate the possibility, however remote, that foreign money might be influencing the activism of domestic environmental organizations.

In the meantime, the damage has been done, and the energy price rollercoaster ride shows no signs of ending anytime soon.


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Todd Jaquith


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