House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Rob Bishop (R-Utah) said Monday that China’s government may be using United States environmental laws to thwart the military.
Bishop, speaking Monday on Hill.TV’s “Rising,” said potential Chinese actions to undermine the military are one of the main focuses of a series of investigations his panel recently launched into U.S.-based environmental groups.
“There is obviously a great deal of concerns,” Bishop told host Buck Sexton, adding that some of the green groups “are claiming that they’re suing the government once every 10 days.”
“Last time I was in the Pacific in some of our territories, we had a briefing from some of the military that simply said the Chinese know our environmental laws and they use them against us,” Bishop continued.
“We’re trying to explore how deep that actually goes, whether it’s something done on purpose or something just by serendipity. But we’re trying to see where that takes us,” he said.
Bishop and Rep. Bruce Westerman (R-Ark.) launched the project earlier this month with a letter demanding certain documents and answers from the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), the dominant U.S. group in environmental lobbying.
For both NRDC and the Center for Biological Diversity, Bishop and Westerman say they’re investigating suspicions that the groups’ activities amount to lobbying on behalf of foreign governments. Such lobbying without proper Justice Department disclosure is a federal crime.
NRDC, which the lawmakers say may be serving as a foreign agent for China, denied that it is working on China’s behalf.
“NRDC’s work, in the United States and elsewhere, serves the public interest. It is directed by our senior leadership and policy experts, accountable to our independent board of trustees and supported by millions of Americans,” Bob Deans, the group’s director of strategic engagement, said in a statement after Bishop sent his initial letter. “Any suggestion to the contrary is just false.”
The lawmakers are investigating the Center for Biological Diversity’s advocacy against relocating a Marine Corps installation in Japan’s Okinawa.
“Simply for some kind of military activities, there are permits you have to have. They know how to use that, they can get locals to protest and slow things down. And that’s the issue,” Bishop said.
— Timothy Cama