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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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