FIRST ON FOX: Republican leaders on three top House committees are probing an environmental group with ties to the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) over its funding for U.S. climate initiatives.
House Energy and Commerce Chair Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Wash.; Science, Space, and Technology Chair Frank Lucas, R-Okla.; and Natural Resources Chair Bruce Westerman, R-Ark., penned a letter to Energy Foundation CEO and President Ji Chou, informing him of their investigation into his organization. The letter comes following a Fox News Digital report that uncovered $3.8 million in donations the Energy Foundation sent to American climate groups.
“China could greatly improve its economic and geopolitical position should renewable energy resource use and electrification increase in the United States. China dominates global renewable energy product supply chains, such as those for batteries, solar panels, and electrolyzers,” the Republicans wrote to Chou, noting the Director of National Intelligence’s findings last year that China’s green energy dominance “could pose a significant risk” to the West.
“China has already attempted to influence United States policy and opinion regarding China through covert influence and exploit perceived societal divisions,” McMorris Rodgers, Lucas and Westerman added. “As such, we are alarmed by attempts of China-affiliated organizations attempting to influence United States energy policy.”
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Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, Frank Lucas, center, and Bruce Westerman are opening a joint probe into the Energy Foundation. (Getty Images)
In their letter, they requested a series of documents and contracts related to the Energy Foundation’s financial activity. The investigation is part of Republicans’ broader efforts examining how environmental groups have been influenced by Chinese entities and have increasingly engaged with the Chinese government on climate change.
While the Energy Foundation’s financial filings indicate that the group is technically headquartered in San Francisco, a Fox News Digital review determined that the majority of its operations are conducted in China with a staff that boasts extensive ties to the CCP. According to its 2022 financial statement, the group leases two office facilities in China under operating leases that have terms through April 2024.
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The group, which refers to itself as “Energy Foundation China,” was formed in 2020 when it split from the United States Energy Foundation, a larger group that identifies its headquarters at the same San Francisco address listed in the Energy Foundation’s tax forms. The Energy Foundation retained the original tax identification information from before that split.
Among its apparent connections to the CCP apparatus, Chou himself previously served as the deputy director general of China’s National Center for Climate Change Strategy, an agency within the Chinese government’s National Development and Reform Commission.
The Energy Foundation, which conducts its operations in Beijing, funneled nearly $4 million to U.S. climate initiaves last year. (Getty Images)
In addition, Liu Xin, who heads the group’s environmental management division, previously served in a high-ranking role at the Beijing Municipal Environmental Protection Bureau. And Ping He, the program director of the group’s industry program, worked for eight years at the Chinese Academy of Sciences, a leading state-run research institution.
The group further notes on its website that it “is registered with the Beijing Municipal Public Security Bureau and supervised by the National Development and Reform Commission of China.”
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“The Energy Foundation’s ties to China are both extremely disturbing and reprehensible,” Tom Pyle, the president of the Institute for Energy Research, told Fox News Digital in an interview last month. “These environmental organizations, the recipients of this money, are, in essence, sacrificing our national security and empowering China.”
“We are the richest energy nation in the world with respect to coal, oil and natural gas,” he said. “And yet the Biden administration and the environmentalists fueled by China are promoting policies that would increase our dependence on China, which controls all the minerals and materials needed for batteries and wind and solar, and curtail our production of oil and gas here at home.”
Workers assemble electric vehicles at a factory in Yuncheng, China, March 28. (VCG/VCG via Getty Images)
Among its more than a dozen grants in the U.S. last year, the Energy Foundation wired $900,000 to the Rocky Mountain Institute, a Colorado-based think tank that has engaged the White House on climate policy and advocates phasing down fossil fuel reliance and net-zero policies. The group also funded a study in 2022 highlighting the dangers of natural gas-powered stovetops, which ultimately led to calls for bans on the appliance.
The Energy Foundation sent another $480,000 to the Washington, D.C.-based International Council on Clean Transportation, which advocates for widespread EV adoption and policies decarbonizing the transportation sector broadly. It also wired grants – one to the University of Maryland and another to the Jackson Hole Center for Global Affairs – worth a total of $450,000 and earmarked for projects to phase out coal power reliance.
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Workers produce solar photovoltaic modules for export at a factory in the Sihong Economic Development Zone in Suqian, China, on Jan. 23. (Costfoto/NurPhoto via Getty Images)
It further sent $375,000 to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), a group founded as “America’s first litigation-focused nonprofit dedicated to making dirty industries clean up their pollution” and which has filed dozens of legal challenges pushing far-left green measures. Through its legal efforts, the NRDC has opposed domestic fossil fuel drilling, coal plants, the Keystone XL oil pipeline and critical mineral mining projects.
Bob Deans, NRDC’s director of strategic engagement, told Fox News Digital in December that the grant was used to “help China cut its carbon footprint by, for example, encouraging the use of energy efficient appliances and improving access to wind and solar power for drivers of electric cars in China, where electricity and transportation account for more than half of all carbon emissions.”
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He also noted the Energy Foundation’s San Francisco headquarters and said NRDC receives no funding from Chinese sources.
And the Energy Foundation contributed another $350,000 to Harvard University, a grant earmarked for “outreach to build a clean energy future.”
The Energy Foundation didn’t respond to a request for comment.