Local Anti-Gas Drilling Activist Catches Execs Pushing PSYOP to Deal With "Insurgency"

Categories: The Environment

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Last week, during an oil-and-gas drilling confab at the Hyatt Regency in Houston, execs turned their attention to a very touchy subject: how to get folks decidedly against gas drilling on their side. At which point, according to audio first obtained by CNBC earlier this week, gas-drilling spokesmen offered some very intriguing solutions, among them: employing folks who used to work in U.S. military psychological operations and downloading The U.S. Army/Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Field Manual. After all, said Matt Carmichael of Anadarko Petroleum, those who are opposed to drilling are part of the "insurgency."

Matt Pitzarella, the director of corporate communications and public affairs for Range Resources, then chimed in: "We have several former PSYOPs folks that work for us at Range because they're very comfortable in dealing with localized issues and local governments."

He continued: "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 PSYOPs in the Army and in the Middle East has applied very helpfully here for us in Pennsylvania." But Pitzarella was hardly the only one touting the benefits of such strategies in dealing with ongoing public controversy over fracking.

As it turns out, these recordings were made by someone familiar to the Friends of Unfair Park who've been following the debate over gas drilling in Dallas city limits: Sharon Wilson, better known as "TXSharon," who maintains the Bluedaze website.

Wilson, the Collin County-based organizer of the Oil & Gas Accountability Project for Earthworks, a non-profit focused on the environment, tells Unfair Park today she paid full price for her ticket to the Media & Stakeholder Relations: Hydraulic Fracturing Initiative 2011 conference -- and even wore a name-tag identifying her organization. She had no intention of outing anyone, she insists.

"I didn't expect to hear anything this insidious," she says. "I did not expect that. The reason I took the recorder, the main reason, is I'm a horrible note-taker."

Unfair Park attempted to reach Carmichael of Anadarko Petroleum about his "insurgency" remarks. But it was another Anadarko spokesperson, John Christiansen, who responded to our email.

"The reference was not reflective of our core values," he wrote. "Our community efforts are based upon open communication, active engagement and transparency, which are all essential in building fact-based knowledge and earning public trust."

We also reached out to Pitzarella, and will update if we get a response.

When asked whether these comments were just moments taken out of context, Wilson insists: Definitely not.

"It was absolutely a theme throughout the whole thing of enlist neighbors who have an incentive and get them to deliver your message to their neighbors," she says. "Words like 'enlist' and 'engage' ... 'battle' and 'war.' More than just the two Matts referred to the American public as insurgents."

Wilson says she knows people who have received letters from gas companies encouraging mineral rights owners to advocate for drilling in their neighborhoods. She says energy companies often seem to target people who will benefit financially from drilling in an attempt for them to rally the support of others around them. As evidenced by the mere existence of last week's conference, strategy can be of key importance in such matters.

"So they have to use these extreme measures to get what they want," she says. "I think a lot of people wouldn't object if they could do it safely and if it didn't harm them. But it does and it has, and that's why they're having to do these very drastic extreme measures."

She didn't intend on taping the entire conference, she says, but ran out to buy extra batteries after the first lecture: "I've got almost 16 hours of tape."


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38 comments
ronwagn
ronwagn

How has psy-ops worked out n the the Middle East? It seems like we have more enemies than ever.

TheExpertCES
TheExpertCES

People, we need to drill for the gas, but we need to makesure it's done environmentally safe. Don't be so animate on stopping drillingany where in the USas it's one of our viable ways to independence off foreign oil. Use the brainto resolve safe drilling not from a mode of panic and gloom and doom. metal fabrication

 

KT
KT

Why the hell are they fracking around Comanche Peak?

Marc
Marc

KT, they are frac'ing around Comanche Peak because (1) they are totally stupid, (2) they are totally greedy, and (3) they really do not care how much damage and destruction they cause as long as they have a chance to profit from it.

PROWEST
PROWEST

Bury

It is amazing the extent companies will go to "break-up" a community that is steadfast in their decision to not allow hydro-fracking on their land. What is scary is this tactic in the article appears to have worked in the past.

Marc
Marc

The only reason why industry is successful in dividing communities is because citizens are ignorant about the facts surrounding the whole issue. Industry uses a Joseph Goebbels tactic of telling the "Big Lie" to convince citizens that the O&G industry will give us "energy independence from the Middle East", "create much-needed jobs here", utilize our 200-300 year supply of domestic natural gas" and all the other lies they tell to make people think that drilling is patriotic.

As people become educated and aware of the dangers they rise up against this industry, which is exactly why industry is spending hundreds of millions of dollars producing and broadcasting slick institutional television ads to brainwash people into supporting them and their endeavors. People around the world are opposing frac'ing, and it is causing great consternation for those in the industry who expected no opposition at all.

Unfortunately, we have among us a lot of brain-dead people who either cannot grasp the scientific facts, or else choose to live in la-la land thinking that they are going to become the next Jed Clampett, and those are the very people at whom industry advertising is targeted. They are also the easiest to brainwash. PsyOps techniques work very well on weak-minded dpeople.

Thomas
Thomas

We know these tactics are employed against us. For anyone who's been paying attention, it really kicked into high gear during the Bush II era. It's time to make any sort of intentional psychological manipulation a federal crime, and nullify any of all NDAs ever signed by anyone hired to do this kind of work on behalf of any individual, corporation, political body or government agency - so that we can get the truth told publicly about all the dirty little tricks being played on people's hearts and minds.

mynameisURL
mynameisURL

I'm surprised they didn't use the word our government has used over the past 30 years to such great effect: TERRORIST

As in: The anti-drilling "terrorists" are agitating the general public and preventing their good neighbors from profiting from the "God-Given" resources right under their own feet!

TERROR!

Paul
Paul

fracking cause reflexive synaptic response disorder!

WezVoo
WezVoo

Sounds like you may well be onto something there dude. I do like the sound of that.Privacy-Toolz.tk

Vishal Chohan
Vishal Chohan

I think that these are really wrong way of dealing with locals

Guest
Guest

fact-based knowledge

I've heard that phrase somewhere before. Where was it?

Oh yeah. It was in my downloaded copy of The U.S. Army/Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Field Manual

CoolhandLuke
CoolhandLuke

How dare they organize and use their 1st Amendment rights! Those rights only belong to the Left! And they can do whatever they want, just ask Axelrod. 

Marc
Marc

I am fairly certain that Tim Ruggiero is about as far from "the left" as you can get without being a Teabagger extremist, and he is hardly the only one opposing frac'ing that is a conservative Republican. This is not an issue about left v. right. It is an issue of those who oppose corporations destroying people and property for their own benefit v people who think it is okay to kill people and destroy their property in the name of corporate profits.

Statements like yours are just patently stupid and unsubstantiated by fact.

Timothy R. Ruggiero
Timothy R. Ruggiero

In less than a day, we have Matt Pitzarella going from backpeddling to now accusing Sharon Wilson of 'editing and swapping' the recordings-this, in spite of the fact that all conference attendees were told in advance that presentations were going to be recorded, and again upon arrival at the conference. Ironic, given that Matty wasn't around all that much, as he had to leave to figure out how to control the narrative on yet another Range Resources' spill. And now, today, we have some other mouthpiece from Anadarko (because the first one is still trying to extract his foot from his mouth) spinning away, instead of apologizing. No apology is expected, as Industry never takes responsibility for anything they do. So, here's the deal: You keep developing new ways of destroying people's lives, their property and their health, and we're going to keep publicizing it. Count on it.

Roblesphoto
Roblesphoto

The industry is being unfairly attacked by those with other agendas then those you've listed. Without the industry, just how good would your life be...think about it. Medical technology, plastics, containers, pcs, air travel- just about every advancement to quality of life = energy. Many of the public health, environment and surface rights popularized concerns are blown entirely out of portion, purposefully misleading, fabricated or representative of just plain ignorance. Please live your life tomorrow with understanding of the industry and maybe a little patience and hint of gratitude. Your welcome...

Marc
Marc

Killing ourselves and wiping out the planet just so some oil tycoons can live the life of Riley and give us energy is about as ridiculous as it gets. It is true that fossil fuels have created a lot of comfort for us and enabled us to do a lot that was not possible before we discovered how to use energy, but nothing provided by fossil fuels is exclusive to the use of fossil fuels, and renewable, sustainable energy is our ONLY realistic option.

Anybody who deludes themselves into thinking that those of us who oppose raping the planet and killing people for the sake of corporate profits need look no further than our victory yesterday regarding the Keystone XL tar sands pipeline. We have fought, and will continue to fight, against hydraulic fracturing, tar sands and other forms of dangerous exploration and exploitation as long as it takes to turn the tide away from fossil fuels.

The very fact that O&G is spending hundreds of millions of dollars creating and bombarding broadcast and print media with institutional ads promoting natural gas exploration is a testament to our success in opposing their dirty work. Every time I see one of those ads I smile because that is THEIR money going up in smoke. Natural gas is already selling for less than half the breakeven price, and our efforts are moving that breakeven point even farther away from them!

That the industry finds it necessary to turn citizen against citizen for the sake of corporate profits just shows how brilliant the Founding Fathers were when they warned us about corporations gaining too much influence in our lives and in government.

Randy S
Randy S

"Working Together As An Industry to Leverage Mass Media, Social Media & Community Support" in action.

Which PR firm do you work for? Or are you industry internal?

Admonkey
Admonkey

Funny how bringing in ex-military PSYOPS experts sounds so much more insidious than hiring a PR firm.

James
James

I find it funny how you don't think using military techniques in civilian negotiations to force an agenda on local Americans is insidious.  PR firms, unless they are trained military technicians, are not interested in conquering, destroying or occupying as we train our military to do.  Public Relations firms are there to improve relations with the locals during negotiations like this.  PSYOPS - Psychological Operations of the US Military - is a weapon, and it's being used on civilians at the behest of an oil company.  So check your insidio-meter on these two techniques of negotiating with American civilians now.

Admonkey
Admonkey

Here's a cluestick you can beat yourself with: PSYOP techniques differ very little from a well-executed offensive PR campaign initiated by skilled professionals to influence and encourage an outcome. Bonus: professional PR teams are often better educated and trained than their military counterparts. They're certainly better paid. Only the language used by inside players to describe the applied techniques and their targets is different. Both are weapons (though PR professionals will call the arsenal at their disposal, "tools").

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/L...

Now, why don't you sit back, ponder that, and tell me what I "don't think" again.

Blake M.
Blake M.

It's fairly obvious from most of the comments here that the techniques contemplated in this post are well-considered and highly likely to be successful. Maybe not in favor of the current project itself, but almost certainly in favor of the annual sales of something shiny, and almost certainly in pursuit of having them tell someone they don't know from Adam everything they can think of about themselves, their family, and everyone with the misfortune to know them, including private cell phone numbers, mother's maiden names, etc.

These people are like veal calves with their own exceptionally well-developed crate building skills, and I for one am fortunate to have them as paying customers.

Uh-0h, here it comes, though, the soft lowing of the tasty innocents,

"mooooo...you work for anadarko...moooo....how much are they paying you...mooooooo...

No, no no, sweet cutlets, it's how much you all are paying ME.

cp
cp

Why don't we ask Carol Reed what she thinks the difference might be...

Max from the Sandspit
Max from the Sandspit

Soo, the Gaslanders are miffed that Industry have adopted their rules of engagment. What a bunch of pussies. Or are they just a bunch of ineptocrats.

mynameisURL
mynameisURL

Not miffed, just calling 'em out Max.

MushMouth1
MushMouth1

How's your internship at Anadarko going there Max? I like the cut of your jib kid, you show real promise.  A bit rough on the old charming the masses thing but keep on plugging away.

Darrd2010
Darrd2010

No one on our team is 'miffed' as you call it. Just sort of interesting and alarming that an American industry has employees hired from the war machine to employ psychological tactics against Americans in order to get what they want. If you can find an organization or community group that has the same people on payroll or has adopted those so called rules of 'engagement' we would love to hear their names. Go ahead and print them. Come on..... here kitty, kitty, do it.

Max from the Sandspit
Max from the Sandspit

SEIU-ACORN-Media Matters- MSNBC-Evironmental Defense- James Carville- Green Peace- Big Green et. al. and an ol' mentor of mine Ronnie Duggar. The game is is called mind games, go ask a trial lawyer cuz they play it well.

Randy S
Randy S

What do the people with the 20 kids have to do with this?

Ed D.
Ed D.

You left out the World Health Organization, Jerry's Kids, that one guy from Bones, Tina Fey, and the government agency so frightening that even Rick Perry dares not speak its name aloud. (It's kind of like Voldemort, only with dental care and a pension plan.)

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