Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler said Monday he would ask the Justice Department to look into whether environmental advocacy groups have received covert funding from China and Russia, The Washington Free Beacon reports.
Wheeler made the request after Representative Lance Gooden (R., Texas) earlier this month requested an investigation into China and their alleged funding of left-wing environmental groups which include the Sea Change Foundation, Sunrise Movement, and Sierra Club. Gooden states, “We have reason to believe they are funneling money to certain green groups to influence American foreign policy and our elections.”
In the letter to the congressman, Wheeler noted it is not a violation of U.S. law for a non-profit group to accept contributions from foreign entities, however foreign influence should not be covert and asked the DOJ to look into whether the groups should register as foreign agents.
“Given heightened concerns that foreign countries, primarily China and Russia, are potentially funding U.S.-based ‘green’ groups to undermine American energy independence and to help maintain the integrity of the EPA’s decision-making, EPA will refer this matter to the DOJ [Foreign Agents Registration Act] Unit,” Wheeler said. “The DOJ can then determine what appropriate steps to take, if any, including whether those entities should be registered as foreign agents.”
Gooden praised the administrator’s decision.
“The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) stands to profit heavily from a Biden administration which would make us reliant on Made-in-China renewable energy,”
Other Republican lawmakers have raised concerns about anonymous funding of green groups for potential foreign influence. In September, Rep. Liz Cheney (R., Wyo.) asked the DOJ to investigate whether Russia and China are working to infiltrate environmental groups as a way of influencing U.S. policy.
According to a report by The Washington Free Beacon, “Republican lawmakers are most concerned about the Sea Change Foundation, which has utilized offshore entities to pump large sums into its coffers. Since its founding in 2006, the Sea Change Foundation has passed nearly $500 million to liberal environmental groups, including the Sierra Club, Energy Foundation, U.S. Climate Action Network, and others. It has also received money from Klein Ltd., a Bermuda-based entity, which has led to concerns over its funding. A 2014 report from the Environmental Policy Alliance alleged that Klein has ties to Russian oligarchs. The nonprofit has denied the allegations.”
“All funding to Klein (now Sea Change Foundation International) has been exclusively from philanthropic contributions by Bermuda-based family trusts of which I, my children, and family-related philanthropic organizations are the only beneficiaries,” the group’s director, Nathaniel Simons, said in a forwarded statement first issued in 2018. “Neither Klein nor Sea Change Foundation has ever solicited or accepted contributions from non-family related sources.”
Green groups have called the allegations an effort to distract attention from the market forces hurting the fossil fuel industry.