Supporters of hydraulic fracturing have long accused Russia of funding anti-fracking environmental groups, and it turns out Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton agrees.
Mrs. Clinton complained about “phony environmental groups” pushing an anti-fracking agenda in a speech to a private audience, according to excerpts leaked Saturday by WikiLeaks after purportedly hacking into the account of Clinton campaign manager John Podesta.
The Clinton campaign has refused to comment on the leaked documents while declining to dispute their authenticity.
“We were up against Russia pushing oligarchs and others to buy media. We were even up against phony environmental groups, and I’m a big environmentalist, but these were funded by the Russians to stand against any effort, ‘Oh that pipeline, that fracking, that whatever will be a problem for you,’ and a lot of the money supporting that message was coming from Russia,” Mrs. Clinton said in her remarks.
She allegedly made the comments at a June 18, 2014, speech sponsored by tinePublic, a Canadian promotional group.
Filmmaker Phelim McAleer, who linked Russia to U.S. anti-fracking campaigns in his 2014 documentary FrackNation, said the former Secretary of State’s comments vindicate what he and others have long alleged.
“Clinton had access to intelligence reports and briefings. This is a huge story,” Mr. McAleer said in an email. “We at FrackNation are now calling for Hillary Clinton and the State Department to release the names of all anti-fracking organization funded by [Vladimir] Putin’s Russia.”
At the same time, the leaked speeches came as another blow to Mrs. Clinton’s tenuous relationship with environmentalists.
“Apparently, @HillaryClinton will help clean up world w/ renewable energy—right after she helps poison it w/ fracking,” Mediaite columnist and The Young Turks political reporter Jordan Chariton said in a Sunday tweet.
In an April 2013 speech to Deutsche Bank, Mrs. Clinton credited the federal government with helping develop fracking, adding that, “I’ve promoted fracking in other places around the world.”
“The ability to extract both gas and oil from previously used places that didn’t seem to have much more to offer, but now the technology gives us the chance to go in and recover oil and gas,” Mrs. Clinton says in the document. “Or with the new technology known as fracking, we are truly on a path — and it’s not just United States; it’s all of North America — that will be net energy exporters assuming we do it right.”
During the campaign, Mrs. Clinton cast herself as a fracking skeptic, saying the extraction process should not be used “when any state or locality is against it,” or when methane leaks or water contamination are present. She also said companies should be required to disclose their fracking formulas.
“So by the time we get through all of my conditions, I do not think there will be many places in America where fracking will continue to take place,” Mrs. Clinton said in a March 6 debate as transcribed by Mother Jones. “And I think that’s the best approach, because right now, there are places where fracking is going on that are not sufficiently regulated.”
Sen. Tim Kaine, the Virginia Democrat running on the Clinton ticket, cast doubt Sunday on the credibility of the leaked documents.
“I have no way of knowing the accuracy of documents dumped by this hacking organization,” Mr. Kaine told CNN. “Much of the hacking has been connected to the Russian government.”
He added that “anybody who hacks in to get documents is completely capable of manipulating them.”