Gas Companies Caught Using Military Tactics To Overcome Drilling Concerns

FORT WORTH (CBSDFW.COM) – The battle over gas drilling is now being compared to elements of an actual battlefield.

Energy industry officials were caught on tape at a conference in Houston using military terms to describe their opposition. One company says it uses ex-military psychological operations experts in its community plans.

The comments came as companies were meeting to talk about strategies for overcoming concern over practices like hydraulic fracturing, or fracking.

But industry activist Sharon Wilson, who recorded the comments, said it may have just created more concern.

“I had just a moment of sheer terror,” Wilson said.

The first line came in a presentation from a representative of Anadarko Petroleum.

“Download the US Army/Marine Corp counter insurgency manual. Because we are dealing with an insurgency,” he said.

Matt Carmichael went on to recommend attendees read Rumsfeld’s Rules, from former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

In another session, referring to those comments about the military, Range Resources Matt Pitzarella said, “We have several former psy-ops (psychic-operations) folks that work for us at Range, because they’re very comfortable dealing with localized issues and local governments.”

“Really all they do is spend most of their time helping folks develop local ordinances.”

Some energy and business experts who spoke to CBS11 said there is no conspiracy by energy companies in using military psy-ops experts. Experiences in a war zone, they said, can go a long way to dealing with emotional issues here at home.

The Army’s website classifies psy-ops and public relations as different specialties. It describes psy-ops as influencing reasoning and, ultimately, the behavior of governments, groups and individuals.

Calvin Tillman, the former mayor of the Denton County town of Dish who had difficulties with the industry, said he wasn’t surprised to find the industry turning to military psychological experts to deal with government.

“If you have a certain problem, or if you have a certain concern, they know how to make you feel at ease with what’s going on,” Tillman said.

Wilson says the recordings prove activists aren’t just paranoid about industry tactics.

“If they would drill better, if they could do this right, then they wouldn’t have to employ such extreme measures,” he said.

In a response to using the term “insurgency,” The Woodlands-based Anadarko Petroleum released this statement to CBS 11:

“The reference was not reflective of our core values. 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.”

Range Resources did not respond to calls or emails requesting comment.

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  • Maryjane

    Of course the gas industry used psychological military tactics. How else could they have signed on entire communities and taken over large cities in the blink of an eye? Now we are at risk of being blown up, or becoming ill from the chemicals being spewed into our air and water. They are even helping local municipalities write their ordinances. We are in the midst of a war and I hope to God that they don’t win the battle.

  • NiteNurse

    I guess we were all happy at the sight of those big checks they waved at us for mineral rights. Little did we know they would ugly up our neighborhoods with those drilling sites right next to our houses. They suck up our precious water and create potential explosion hazards. No one can convince me that these little earthquakes we have had lately aren’t related to all the deep earth drilling we have been doing. We haven’t had a quake in recent history in this area of the country until all this gas drilling.

    • Steve

      Big? Finley Resources gave us $200 then sat on everything until after the lease expired after 3 yrs then threw $7 at us & said, “read the fine print – we still get to drill”. FR is well-known for stall tactics to gain the upperhand & making other companies give up on working w/ them – then they get the whole pie.

      • A Texas Bluebonnet

        Finley sounds like a real crooked company. Everybody out there taking note?
        Don’t even open the door for them if they show up.

  • Marcellus Shale

    Citizens in Washington County, Pa. have witnessed Range Resources’ psychological operations. Range hasn’t taken to dropping leaflets from the air yet, but they have littered local media with glossy ads and slick advertising campaigns, filling any opinion gaps with large political contributions to Harrisburg and key local politicos.

    Fracturing doesn’t end with their drilling…. in Mt Pleasant Township Township, Range actually sent two different letters to groups of township residents, geared to their individual positions on drilling, in order to ‘divide and conquer’ the community. Other tactics in that township resemble ‘bullying’ more than ‘psy-ops.’ Let’s not insult the military!

    At meetings in other townships they have been caught flat-footed in bald-faced lies, trying to present themselves as being “green” and as the best operator in the industry. They told a county school board near Pittsburgh they had “no issues” in Washington County and no longer flared wells there, while numerous lawsuits were underway in that county and someone had seen several flares on one of their drilling pads just days prior.

    Range might call it psy-ops but it’s definitely not military “INTELLIGENCE!” It’s been pretty tough sledding for their psy-ops guys when they face a room full of angry neighbors sickened by fumes from one of Range’s open-air wastewater impoundments. At another township ‘informational’ meeting, they actually had one of their employees hand-picking which written questions from the audience would be asked of the panel. Most people would call that just plain ‘sneaky.’

    Another aspect of their ‘black-ops’ involves ‘making excuses’ or ‘passing the buck’ when they have had large spills, using the same clever ‘tactics’ used by bad kids when they were growing up. When will Range grow-up and become a responsible member of the communities they drill in?

    The playing field (aka battlefield) in Pennsylvania is so favorably slanted in Range’s direction that one really has to wonder why they resort to all these underhanded ‘tactics.’ If Range’s Executives and Board of Directors would just ‘MAN UP’ and insist on corporate honesty and responsibility from their ‘operatives,’ they would find their future path in Pennsylvania much less like a ‘minefield’ in Iraq.

  • Steve

    Well, that explains how Finley Resource was able to get the City of Ft Worth to put everyone who didn’t sign the lease agreement in a cubby hole. That allowed them to proceed w/o having to contact homeowners – or allow them to protest the wells going up.

    I’m near downtown & am soooo tired of red eyes irritated eyes, nose, lungs & sinuses. What gives these companies a right to dirty our air against our will?

    Plus now, Tarrant County got permission from the TX Legislature to tax “the market value” of every virtual well supposedly attached to your property (if you leased it out) – on top of you paying income tax on the residuals. Double dipping, I say. Texas doesn’t have a personal income tax yet Tarrant County gets to tax these virtual wells? Not hard to see why they, the cities & state are letting these companies run over us – they’re all profitting while we choke on our air.

  • charlie

    Gas drillers define democracy in one simple phrase “SUPREMACY OF MINERAL RIGHTS”! They are DEAD serious about it. This is their mind set when the wake up and go to sleep each day.

    That is why using military terms and military tactics is second nature to this industry. Your rights are a distant second to their profits. Your health, safety and the future health of your children stand in the way of their drilling. Make no mistake about it – any and all opposition to their goals is viewed as hostile and your rights will be eradicated with a precision that astound you.

    They will not “give any ground” but you can bet your bottom dollar they will take yours no matter what you try and do.

  • Shane

    I live in East Fort Worth. Chesapeake Energy wants to build a 15 unit compressor station 1,000 feet from my neighborhood. I think they fully expect to be allowed by the City to do so. So far, the city zoning commission has denied the zoning change that would allow this. It still has to go before the City Council though. I suspect some of our City leaders are in the back pockets of Chesapeake so I’m afraid this thing may get approved even though the zoning commission has recommended it be denied. I’m sick of our City “leaders” working for the gas companies instead of their citizens.

    We’ve had neighborhood meetings with Chesapeake. The meetings were a joke. Hundreds of questions were submitted for them to answer but they hand-picked the ones they wanted to answer and they chose questions that were basically the same so they kept giving the same answers. Plus, they only gave us an hour but started the meeting 15 minutes late. They actually had the audacity to state on their website that their compression station would actually IMPROVE the value of this area. Seriously? I’m sick of this industry. I know we need the gas but they’ve gone about it all wrong and I want them out of our urban areas.

    • Ray

      If you want them out of your neighborhood, then you need to stop using energy generated by gas and coal. Sign up for only solar and wind generated electricity, have a wood burning stove insert put in your fireplace, check on getting a rent to own solar system where you pay the solar company instead of the electric company until the system is paid off. STOP using so much energy and advocate for clean energy. VOTE SMARTER!

      Urban people cannot expect us rural folks to continue to suffer to generate your energy. Be more responsible!

      • Shane

        I’m originally from a rural area outside of Abilene. The drilling between there and San Angelo didn’t bother me at all. It was done appropriately, not 500 or 600 feet from people’s houses.

        A compressor station in the middle of a residential area is absurd. I have nothing against the oil and gas industry itself. I’m against the way they’ve become in charge of Fort Worth. No industry should have so much power over our elected officials. I do plan to move out of Fort Worth because it has become too much to take. Then I’ll quit griping.

      • A Texas Bluebonnet

        That you are free to move ot Ft. Worth and can afford to do so, you are a lucky man. But what about all those folks who either cannot afford to move, or have no other place to go? Perhaps their homes are inherited after generations of family members have lived there and called it home. What right do these gas and oil folks have to simply move in and force them out, or run over their right to remain there if they want to. This is the point: there is no respect for the right of those who call Ft. Worth home and who may have lived there for years. These are bullies at best. So, your moving may solve your personal problem, but you show no concern for your neighbors or for the Constitution and basic human decency that should be protecting your neighbor. All you seem to care about is youself and solving your own problem. You do not care for your neighbors left behind. This is not American, because standing together for the rights that we all have is what bjuilt this country. You shoud stand and make a fight with them.

      • A Texas Bluebonnet

        Fact is, I use only wind and solar generated electricity. But not everyone’s city utilities policies allow them to do this. And burning wood only destroys more forests and pollutes the air. It is not clean energy, either. Idea of swtching to solar is great, if affordable for a household, and permissible under city regulations. I agree on getting off oil and gas for generating electricity at least, when renewables are so available to os. And electric cars or at least hybrids are on the way, and becoming more affordable. We are on the right track here.
        But as long as gas and oil money controls city councils and state legislatures, and other political entities, the power of the people to access these clean and sustainable utilities may be hard to actually obtain. We need to clean up politics, get the hands of the politicians out of the pockets of the oil and gas companies and the moguls who run them, and put these dirty industries back in their places, which is not in our back yard polluting our air and water.

      • Shane

        I have stood-by-side with my neighbors. I’ve attended neighborhood meetings. I’ll gone to City Hall to protest what is going on. I’ve donated money to try and stop this runaway train. I’ve written and e-mailed every City, County, State and Federal official I can think of. My saying that I’m moving out of Fort Worth does NOT mean I don’t care about my fellow neighbors. I don’t feel like your generalization about me is fair. You don’t even know meI I can’t AFFORD to move. We’re going to lose a lot of money on our house. I HAVE to move. I’m being forced out by my own City. I will continue to fight this no matter where I live, though. I’ll just quit griping about it being down the road from me. Quit judging people you don’t know. You have no idea how much I’ve poured into fighting this battle. I’ve never been rheemed out by someone when we’re on the same side.

      • A Texas Bluebonnet

        Apologies, Shane and thanks for telling me more of your story. But I still say go for a recall campaign to put in office real public servants who will put an end to this ‘”you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” pact wth the oil and gas companies by those now in office.

        Whyallow them to run you all out of town with their pollution?

      • Bust A Move

        A Texas Bluebonnet:

        You have some nerve! Who are you to judge? Try walking in our shoes. I also live in one of the neighborhoods that will be affected by Chesapeake if the Fort Worth City Council alllows that compressor station to be built near our homes. My husband & I ALSO plan on moving out of here just as soon as possible. But the proposed compressor station & lack of care & concern by the city council towards it’s citizens is just one reason why. You do not know the other things that have been going on around here. It has been a nightmare, and we had already discussed leaving. This is just making us want to leave sooner. I just hope that whenever & wherever we do move, we don’t have a judgmental person like you as our neighbor!!

  • A Texas Bluebonnet

    Right on to all you good folks up in Ft. Worth! If I lived in Ft. Worth, I would begin a “recall campaign” on every City Council member who shows they are in the pocket of these companies by voting favorably for what they want, and ignoring what the people who elected them want. Throw them out, and have a new election. Then elect honest people like yourselves who will stand up to these manipulating liars and do what is right for the people of Ft. Worth. Stand up and fight, and if it is insurgency they want, then take the insurgency to the ballot box.

  • A Texas Bluebonnet

    For Bust a Move:

    Not trying to judge, but encourage you to put together a campaign to remove the current council members who are selling you and your neighborhood out.
    Find representatives from among you who will take their place in a new election and take charge of your world. I am watching the same situation develop where I live in South Texas, and we are trying to make them accountable from day one–i.e. companies and City Council alike.

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