Russia meddled in Enbridge Line 5 controversy

Mar 8, 2018

A new report by a US House committee says Russian social media trolls meddled in the debate over the Line 5 pipeline beneath the Straits of Mackinac.

The Committee on Science, Space, and Technology worked with Facebook and Twitter to identify nine-thousand posts related to US energy issues that originated from Russian accounts. The report cited the shutdown of the Line 5 pipeline as one of the issues Russians accounts tried to influence.

Brandon VerVelde is the press secretary for the House Committee. He says Russia has a clear motive.

“As Russian energy exports to Europe and Western Europe decrease their political and economic influence in that region decreases. As American energy has increased that presents a clear threat to Russia.”

VerVelde says russian accounts tweeted both in favor and against pipelines, but largely focused efforts against.

He says roughly four percent of the content posted by the Russian accounts was related to energy infrastructure. By comparison, the 2016 election made up about eight percent of posts.

Environmental groups were quick to point out the report did not release any actual posts regarding the Line 5 pipeline.

Sean McBrearty is with Oil and Water Don’t Mix, which supports shutdown of the Line 5 Pipeline. He called the report a distraction.

“Any sort of Russian tweeting had no impact on our campaign to decommission Line 5.”

McBrearty says roughly 30-thousand Michigan residents made public comments in 2017 calling for the decommission of the pipeline and those people quote “aren’t Russian trolls.”

VerVelde declined to share any posts directly related to the Line 5 pipeline.