Red Dawn Moment: Shale Gas Industry Identifies Concerned Citizens as the Insurgency
By Rich Bindell
If you’re concerned about the potential dangers that shale gas fracking poses, you might want to pay close attention because the oil and gas industry just identified you as part of the insurgency. You could be dangerous. An environmental activist recently captured audio from a media strategy session of an industry conference where energy companies discussed incorporating military strategies when dealing with citizens concerned about fracking. Calmly look at yourself in the mirror at this time. Do you have a rifle strapped to your back? Have people called you a rebel in the past few days? Have you taken to wearing a beret and/or camouflage cargo pants? Welcome to Frackville.
Activist Sharon Wilson paid her way into an industry conference in Houston, Texas and recorded conversations at a few of the sessions. At a session about “educating the public,” Anadarko Petroleum Corporation Manager of External Affairs Matt Carmichael recommended that his colleagues download the U.S. military counterinsurgency manual.
“Download the U.S. Army-slash-Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Manual, because we are dealing with an insurgency,” Carmichael said. “There’s a lot of good lessons in there and coming from a military background, I found the insight in that extremely remarkable.”
Is that a typical approach to educating the public? Do they plan to knock on doors to discuss water quality and possibly incorporate waterboarding as a tactic?
At another session entitled, “Designing a Media Relations Strategy to Overcome Concerns Surrounding Hydraulic Fracturing.” One of the presenters suggested downloading a copy of the official Army and Marine Corps counterinsurgency manual, while a Range Resources Communications Director Matt Pitzarella revealed that his company employs several former psychological operatives (PSYOPS) from the U.S. military to deal with the locals.
“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.”
Hey, wait… I’m concerned about fracking in the Marcellus Shale. Am I part of the rebel insurgency? Are you? Prepare for the coming of the PSYOPS. By the way, according to Wikipedia, psychological operations are planned operations to convey selected information and indicators to foreign audiences to influence their emotions, motives, objective reasoning, and ultimately the behavior of foreign governments, organizations, groups, and individuals. Media strategy and military strategy are one and the same in the eyes of shale gas companies.
When I read about these comments, I started thinking about the energy companies who have been quickly commandeering land—including shady contracts with residents and even cemeteries—in areas of the Marcellus Shale. It reminded me of the 80’s movie Red Dawn with Patrick Swayze. Only, when I thought of how the parody would play out, I thought it would make more sense to cast the shale gas industry as the communist insurgency, invading people’s land with drills and destroying their homes by contaminating their water. Sorry, Carmichael, but I get to play Swayze’s character, the fearless Jed Eckert. (Obviously, I’m going to need a trainer.)
I guess, according to some gas companies, this means war, with military strategy and all. Thanks to industry PR tactics, this stuff really writes itself.