Fracking and PSYOPs

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Psychological operations (PSYOPs, psy-ops), also known as Psychological Warfare, is defined by the U.S. Department of Defense as "The planned use of propaganda and other psychological actions having the primary purpose of influencing the opinions, emotions, attitudes, and behavior of hostile foreign groups in such a way as to support the achievement of national objectives."[1]

Gas industry executives have been taped saying they think of fracking opponents as "insurgents" and employ former military personnel trained in psy-ops to deal with them.[2] Pennsylvania's homeland security office has put fracking opponents on anti-terrorism bulletins that were distributed to representatives of Pennsylvania's natural gas industry.[3]

Fracking opponents labeled terrorists

In September 2010, the AP reported Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell admitted that information about municipal zoning hearings on Marcellus Shale natural gas drilling and a screening of the documentary "Gasland," as well as an anti-BP candlelight vigil and other peaceful gatherings, were the subject of anti-terrorism bulletins being distributed by Pennsylvania's homeland security office. Rendell admitted that distributing the information was tantamount to trampling on constitutional rights, as the bulletins were going to representatives of Pennsylvania's natural gas industry.[3]

In November 2010, the Guardian reported that actor Mark Ruffalo had reportedly been placed on a US terror advisory list after campaigning in support of Gasland. Ruffalo attracted the attention of Pennsylvania's Office of Homeland Security when he organised screenings for Gasland and addressed the subject of fracking in the latest edition of American GQ.[4] The Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency, however, told told the Philadelphia Inquirer that "There is no list, we never even had a list."[5]

Tom Ridge

Tom Ridge was Pennsylvania’s governor from 1995-2001, until appointed by President George W. Bush as director of Homeland Security in 2001. After Ridge’s retirement from that position, he founded Ridge Global LLC, a consulting firm, and Ridge Policy Group, a lobbying group.[6] Both these firms had a $900,000 lobbying contract with the Marcellus Shale Coalition from 2010-2011,[7] the same period as the anti-terrorism bulletins in Pennsylvania. Ridge is also on the board of Exelon, a utility company that bought Constellation Energy, a Maryland-based natural gas producer and utility.[8]

The gas industry, psy-ops, and "insurgents"

In October 2011, Sharon Wilson of Earthworks attended and taped a hydraulic fracturing conference, "Working Together As An Industry To Leverage Mass Media, Social Media & Community Support To Overcome Public Concern Over Hydraulic Fracturing". The tapes can be accessed here.

The tapes received media attention because of their content. CNBC reported several gas drilling executives can be "heard encouraging military tactics to counter anti-drilling activists and control the message in Pennsylvania."[9]

On one segment, Range Resources spokesman Matt Pitzarella said the company was actively deploying people trained in psy-ops for dealing with local opposition to fracking:[9]

“We have several former psy-ops folks that work for us at Range because they’re very comfortable in dealing with localized issues and local governments. Really all they do is spend most of their time helping folks develop local ordinances and things like that. But very much having that understanding of psy ops in the Army and in the Middle East has applied very helpfully here for us in Pennsylvania.”

Matt Carmichael, from Anadarko Petroleum, referred to drilling opponents as “insurgents” and recommended to those in attendance:[9]

"Download the U.S. Army/Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Manual, because we are dealing with an insurgency. There’s a lot of good lessons in there and coming from a military background, I found the insight in that extremely remarkable.”

According to Wilson: "They are calling it a war. They use the US Army/Mariene Corp Insurgency Manual against us because we are considered 'insurgents.' They employ ex military PSYOPS personnel in our neighborhoods. They track us and map our relationships."[10]



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