How green is Hillary? Emails reveal she ‘sold fracking to the world’

by WorldTribune Staff, May 24, 2016

Despite her pandering to environmentalists during her current campaign for president, Hillary Clinton was a major player in selling fracking “to the world,” recent emails and documents revealed.

Documents recently obtained by The Intercept show the role of the U.S. State Department during Clinton’s tenure as secretary of state in pushing several nations to embrace hydraulic fracturing.

leadership, the State Department worked closely with energy companies to spread fracking around the globe. /White House Photo by Pete Souza)
Under Hillary Clinton’s leadership, the State Department worked closely with energy companies to spread fracking around the globe. /White House Photo by Pete Souza

The documents show Clinton’s State Department brought foreign dignitaries to a fracking site in Pennsylvania, and planned to make Poland a “laboratory for testing whether U.S. success in developing shale gas can be repeated in a different country,” particularly in Europe, where local governments had expressed opposition and in some cases even banned fracking.

The effort by Clinton’s State Department included plans to spread fracking to China, South Africa, Romania, Morocco, Bulgaria, Chile, India, Pakistan, Argentina, Indonesia, and Ukraine.

That history is a far cry from Clinton’s implied opposition to fracking in her 2016 campaign.

Prior to this year’s New York primary, Clinton’s campaign aired a commercial on upstate television stations lauding her work as secretary of state in forcing “China, India, some of the world’s worst polluters” to make “real change.” She promised to “stand firm with New Yorkers opposing fracking, giving communities the right to say ‘no.’ ”

Emails obtained by The Intercept, however, show that State Department officials on Clinton’s watch “worked closely with private sector oil and gas companies, pressed other agencies within the Obama administration to commit federal government resources including technical assistance for locating shale reserves, and distributed agreements with partner nations pledging to help secure investments for new fracking projects.”

In 2014, Mother Jones reporter Mariah Blake used diplomatic cables disclosed by WikiLeaks and other records to uncover how Clinton “sold fracking to the world.”

Clinton has insisted there was no inconsistency between her positions:

“I don’t think I’ve changed my view on what we need to do to go from where we are, where the world is heavily dependent on coal and oil, but principally coal, to where we need to be, which is clean renewable energy, and one of the bridge fuels is natural gas. And so for both economic and environmental and strategic reasons, it was American policy to try to help countries get out from under the constant use of coal, building coal plants all the time, also to get out from under, especially if they were in Europe, the pressure from Russia, which has been incredibly intense. So we did say natural gas is a bridge. We want to cross that bridge as quickly as possible, because in order to deal with climate change, we have got to move as rapidly as we can.”

According to the Inercept, emails show an aggressive effort by Clinton’s State Department in 2010 “to engage private energy companies and use Poland as part of a larger campaign to sell fracking throughout the region.

“An email dated December 3, 2010, shows that the State Department had Poland firmly in its bull’s-eye and that companies such as ExxonMobil, Chevron, Marathon Oil, Canadian firm BNK Petroleum, and Italian energy company Eni expressed interest in tapping into Polish shale. One official suggested “enlisting Eni” to help organize the pro-fracking campaign in Poland, as well as bringing in U.S. companies. Earlier that year, in April, Poland’s then-Minister of Foreign Affairs Radoslaw Sikorski also took a trip to Texas to visit a fracking production site.

“I think we should be open to working with the Poles to spread knowledge and understanding of Poland’s (and Europe’s) shale gas potential,” wrote the State Department’s Chuck Ashley.

“Poland,” Ashley wrote, “is a laboratory for testing whether U.S. success in developing shale gas can be repeated in a different country, with different shales, and a different regulatory environment.”

Ashley also noted that “popular and political support is strong now, but this could change when shale gas wells come to their backyards.”

Polish citizens were successful in fending off companies interested in fracking in Poland, including Chevron. A group called Occupy Chevron formed in reaction to the potential for shale drilling in Poland and Chevron filed a lawsuit against the occupiers. Facing the backlash and low global oil prices, in January 2015, Chevron announced it would halt operations in Poland.

The Intercept also found that “a number of energy companies that worked closely with the State Department now employ lobbyists that are fundraising furiously for Clinton’s campaign. ExxonMobil’s top lobbyist, as well as lobbyists for liquefied natural gas terminals designed to connect the U.S. to the global gas market, are among the most prolific fundraisers.”

The State Department’s shale gas initiative “was clearly driven by the promotion of Big Oil’s expansion,” Charlie Cray, senior researcher at Greenpeace USA, told The Intercept. “That it was one of State’s highest priorities undermines their credibility as leaders in the global effort to prevent the calamitous threats of climate change.”