Around the same time that the federal government’s intelligence community reported that Russia ran an operation attempting to influence the outcome of the 2016 election for Donald Trump, it has been revealed that Moscow has been running a disinformation operation against fracking. The Washington Examiner reports that Russia has been using its government controlled new agency RT to claim that fracking, the technique of forcing oil and natural gas out of shale formations by injecting them with fluid, is environmentally hazardous. The idea seems to have been to support environmentalist demands to get the practice banned in the West.

The reason for the anti-fracking disinformation campaign is evident. Much of Russia’s trade consists of natural gas sales through its giant company Gazprom. Russia has, in the past, used its natural gas exports to influence the foreign policy of its neighbors, just as the Arab oil sheiks used to do in the 1970s and 1980s.

Unfortunately for Russia, fracking has unleashed hitherto untapped reserves of oil and gas, making the United States a fossil fuel exporting country for the first time in many decades. The situation has tended to depress the price of oil and gas much to the detriment of Russia’s economic and political interests. It has also given oil and gas consumer nations and alternative source of fuel, degrading Moscow’s political influence.

The environmental movement, which has opposed fracking and indeed any oil and natural gas drilling, has some explaining to do. How much is the anti-fracking campaign being influenced by Russia and is serving Russia’s national interests and opposing American energy independence?

The matter has some resonance as the Obama administration, which has been hostile to the fossil fuel industry, becomes history.

Donald Trump, the incoming president, has a much more expansive view of the energy sector, believing that the more energy the United States produces domestically, the more robust the economic recovery he is working for will be. The revelation that Russia has been working against that process will serve as ammunition against environmentalist campaigns to try to derail it.

Russia and before it the Soviet Union has traditionally run campaigns to try to influence the domestic policies of its perceived enemies. In the 1980s the Soviet KGB supported the so-called nuclear freeze movement that sought to oppose President Ronald Reagan’s efforts to address an imbalance in nuclear arms between the United States and the Soviet Union. That effort failed, fading away as Reagan started the SDI program and pushed hard for meaningful arms reduction.