By Keith Matheny
At about the same time they were interjecting themselves in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, online trolls from Russia were also tweeting and posting about controversial U.S. energy issues — including Enbridge’s Line 5 oil pipeline in the Straits of Mackinac, a Republican report from a U.S. House committee found.
The report, released Thursday by the Republican majority on the U.S. House’s Committee on Science, Space and Technology, reviewed evidence provided by Twitter, Facebook and Instagram that the social media giants had identified as Russian accounts linked to the Internet Research Agency, a Russian company based in St. Petersburg “established by the Russian government for the purpose of deceptively using various social and traditional media platforms to advance Russian propaganda,” the report states.
The trolls targeted controversial fossil fuel transportation projects between 2015 and 2017, including the Dakota Access Pipeline, a proposed oil transmission line from North Dakota to southern Illinois that prompted national debate amid protests involving American Indians and others in 2016.
“Russian posts also targeted several other pipelines, including Sabal Trail, Keystone XL, Colonial, Bayou Bridge, and Enbridge Line 5,” the report states, adding that numerous tweets encouraged following links to petitions aimed at stopping pipelines that included Line 5.