MARCELLUS SHALE HISTORY: Spying & Psychological Operations on Pennsylvania Citizens 2010-2014

It was discovered in 2010, that peaceful environmental groups, activists, and everyday citizens concerned about their environment, were being subjected to unwarranted scrutiny.

State sponsored security bulletins were being issued on the activities of citizens, that included which public meetings on drilling they might be attending, all while sharing this information across the oil and gas industry. Some citizens even got a ‘knock at the door.’ Cartoonists had a field day ridiculing it all:
This sort of spying and harassment was mockingly referred to as the GAStapo by some. Excerpts from news stories below, describe the far-reaching extent of those activities:

Documents show Homeland Security tracks anti-drill groups in Pa.

By Donald Gilliland | The (Harrisburg) Patriot-News | September 14, 2010

According to recently leaked documents, the Pennsylvania Office of Homeland Security has been tracking anti-gas drilling groups and their meetings — including a public screening of the film “Gasland,” a documentary about the environmental hazards of natural gas drilling.

The office has included the information in its weekly intelligence bulletins sent to law enforcement agencies.

The bulletins are also sent to gas companies drilling in the Marcellus Shale.

Activists and environmental groups have responded with outrage and some alarm.

“I find it kind of creepy that the state is compiling information on the innocuous activity of citizens.”

Jan Jarrett, president of PennFuture, a group that has expressed concern about drilling issues

“What is next? An enemies-of-gas-drilling list compiled by the government so that police can keep an eye on them? Public surveillance for private companies is not the democratic way. It’s not the way Pennsylvania government is supposed to run.”

activist Gene Stilp, who called for a formal House and Senate inquiry
PA Governor Ed Rendell’s comments on the shale gas industry on March 25, 2010:
Followed by his book in June 2012:


Analysis: Terrorism advisory group aided Marcellus industry

By Tom Barnes and Tracie Mauriello | Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Harrisburg Bureau | Thursday, September 16, 2010

HARRISBURG — State Homeland Security Director James Powers Jr. hasn’t said much about the purpose of a $125,000 anti-terrorism contract that the state entered into last October with a security firm based both in Philadelphia and Jerusalem.

But in a recent memo that was leaked to the news media, Mr. Powers made it sound as if the deal with the Institute of Terrorism Research and Resources was aimed at helping Marcellus Shale gas companies learn about the actions of environmental activists who oppose deep underground drilling for gas.

Mr. Powers, who was hired by Gov. Ed Rendell’s administration in 2006, issued a tri-weekly “intelligence bulletin” to state police, local authorities and some Marcellus gas drillers. It was supposed to contain information that ITRR gained regarding “credible threats to critical infrastructure,” as Mr. Rendell put it.

“We want to continue providing this support to the Marcellus Shale Formation natural gas stakeholders while not feeding those groups fomenting dissent against these same companies.”

Pennsylvania Homeland Security Director James Powers Jr.

But in his memo, Mr. Powers said bluntly, “We want to continue providing this support to the Marcellus Shale Formation natural gas stakeholders while not feeding those groups fomenting dissent against these same companies.”

The memo stated that the bulletin “is not for dissemination to the public,” but “is solely meant for owners/operators & security personnel associated with our critical infrastructure & key resources.”

30 August 2010 Bulletin included:


Current – 4 October 2010: The following meetings have been singled out for attendance by anti-Marcellus Shale Formation natural gas drilling activists:

2 September – a hearing on a proposed Marcellus Shale Formation gas drilling ordinance in Cranberry Township (Butler County)

13 September – a hearing on Marcellus Shale Formation gas drilling in the Pittsburgh City Council chambers (414 Grant St.)

20 September – a hearing in Damascus (Wayne County) on a proposed amendment to zoning regulations regarding drilling

4 October – a hearing on a proposed amendment to the township zoning ordinance to regulate oil and gas drilling operations in Upper St. Clair Township (Allegheny County)

3 September 2010: A screening of the controversial Gasland movie is slated for the Piazza in Northern Liberties (near the Delaware River) in Philadelphia.

10-11 September 2010: The following meeting has been singled out for attendance by anti-Marcellus Shale Formation natural gas drilling activists: Pennsylvania Forestry Association, Genetti Hotel in Williamsport (Lycoming County).

By mistake, Mr. Powers e-mailed the memo to someone who opposes the Marcellus Shale drilling instead of only sending it to gas drilling supporters, as he had intended. The drilling opponent, in turn, sent it to media outlets, including an investigative journalism group called Pro Publica and to the weekly Philadelphia City Paper.

The Sierra Club, an environmental group, lambasted the Homeland Security Office “for gathering McCarthy-style ‘research’ on state residents, including everyday Pennsylvanians concerned about the health and environmental damage caused by loosely regulated gas drilling.”

“Gathering McCarthy-style ‘research’ on state residents, including everyday Pennsylvanians concerned about the health and environmental damage caused by loosely regulated gas drilling.”

The state’s one-year agreement with ITRR was due to expire in October, but Mr. Rendell canceled it Tuesday, the day he said he first learned about it through a Harrisburg newspaper report.

Mr. Powers has been unavailable to reporters since news of the contract with ITRR broke Tuesday. His comments in his memo focused on anti-Marcellus activists, and some monitoring was done regarding a Marcellus Shale gas hearing held by Pittsburgh City Council and people who viewed the anti-Marcellus documentary “Gasland” in Philadelphia.

Mr. Rendell called such monitoring work “ludicrous,” “embarrassing” and “appalling” and he apologized to those who had their “legitimate constitutional expression” targeted. State Rep. Mike Vereb, R-Montgomery, who has been a police officer and a corporate security director, is often at odds with Democrat Rendell, but praised him for ending the contract. Source


Josh Fox on Gasland Part 2, the Fracking-Earthquake Link & the Natural Gas Industry’s Use of Psyops:

Pennsylvania Homeland Security office engaged in domestic surveillance, compared political groups to Al Qaeda

DONALD GILLILAND | The Patriot-News | Published: November 7, 2010 | Updated: November 12, 2010

Pennsylvania made national news in September for all the wrong reasons. The Patriot-News reported that Pennsylvania’s Office of Homeland Security had been tracking groups engaged in lawful, peaceful protests, including groups opposed to natural gas drilling, peace activists and gay rights groups. An embarrassed Gov. Ed Rendell, who said that he had been unaware of the program until he read the newspaper, issued an immediate order to halt it.

It turns out the homeland security office or its private consultant were doing more than just monitoring law-abiding citizens. They were comparing environmental activists to Al-Qaeda. They were tracking down protesters and grilling their parents. They were seeking a network of citizen spies to combat the security threats they saw in virtually any legal political activity. And they were feeding their suspicions not only to law enforcement, but to dozens of private businesses from natural gas drillers to The Hershey Co.

Internal e-mails from the Homeland Security office reveal a determined effort to recruit local people receiving its intelligence bulletins — municipal police chiefs, county sheriffs, local emergency management personnel — into its network of citizen spies. The goal was to get those locals to start feeding information to the Institute of Terrorism Research and Response, a private “intelligence” contractor working with the state’s Homeland Security office.

September 2010 Email

For Your Information & Situational Awareness

Just a short note of clarification regarding the intent of the PIB. The information provided to you via the PIB is not for dissemination in the public domain. As indicated in the caveats on the first page, the PIB is solely meant for owners/operators & security personnel associated with our critical infrastructure & key resources.

Although an internet forum is certainly a great way to spread the word and receive input from forum participants, it’s still in the public domain and thus be accessed by both pro and anti-natural gas drilling folks.

Please assist us in keeping the information provided in the PIB to those having a valid need-to-know; it should only be disseminated via closed communications systems.

Thanks for your support. We want to continue providing this support to the Marcellus Shale Formation natural gas stakeholders while not feeding those groups fomenting dissent against those same companies.

James F. Powers, Jr. | Director
Office of Homeland Security
2605 Interstate Drive | Suite 380
Harrisburg, PA 17110-9382
717-651-2715 | Cell: 717-307-5335

September 2010 e-mail

In an e-mail to ITRR in June, former OHS Director James Powers explains, “Thus far, we’ve pushed information to the customer and haven’t actually requested feedback regarding the sites/cities mentioned” in the bulletins. “We’re not looking for them to dump everything on us that occurs in their jurisdiction,” he writes, “only that which relates to the critical infrastructure. In turn, we’ll provide it to you for the analysts to review and make further findings.” However, the definition of “critical infrastructure” employed by Powers and ITRR was clearly very broad. The bulletins were, in fact, loaded with information about legal and peaceful activities by activist groups of all political persuasions.

ITRR’S contract expired in October and, following the revelations in September, Rendell ordered it not to be renewed. The governor declined to fire Powers, but Powers resigned a few weeks later.

Regular readers of the bulletins could easily begin to view activists as a threat. The bulletins freely mixed references to actual terrorist activity abroad with warnings about the non-violent, lawful activities of Pennsylvania citizens. A July 30 bulletin that discusses “jihadist threats in France” quoting Al-Qaeda, also warns that natural gas drilling events “may draw unruly crowds.”

The bulletin warns of “flashpoints for confrontations over natural gas drilling” and provides a list of meetings “singled out by anti-drilling activists.” The list includes township supervisors meetings, county commissioners meetings and a possible Pennsylvania Forestry Association meeting in Mechanicsburg. The bulletins also freely label activist groups to make them sound menacing — sometimes inconsistently.

“They’re not focused on illegal activity — they’re focused on people organizing, and clearly everybody’s in bed with the drilling industry. It’s one thing for private industry to hire groups like ITRR to gather information, but for the government to get involved — you’ve got a nasty menage-a-trois going on here and the citizen activists are the ones getting fracked.”

Witold Walczak, legal director for ACLU of Pennsylvania

At a state Senate hearing, Powers testified, “We never targeted groups. We never targeted individuals.”

But they did.

“What Powers doesn’t get is that simply being named in a bulletin that discusses terrorist activity and that’s put out by an agency with ‘Homeland Security’ in the name, tarnishes the people people being discussed, even if nothing bad is said about them. It’s really guilt by inclusion.”

Witold Walczak, legal director for ACLU of Pennsylvania

Alex Lotorto, a 23-year-old living in Pittsburgh sent an email to friends just before 7 p.m. on June 1, asking them to meet him that night on the Carnegie Mellon campus. He hoped to organize a demonstration as President Obama visited the school the next day. Three hours later, Perelman sent Powers a copy of the message, with Lotorto’s name and cell phone number. Powers immediately forwarded it to a host of law enforcement contacts in Pittsburgh and at the FBI.

Alex Lotorto’s video on contaminated water in Dimock PA:

On the opposite side of the state, Lotorto’s 57-year-old mother, Alexandria, opened the door of her Pike County home to find two State Police officers demanding to know the whereabouts of her son. “They said Pittsburgh police commanded them to find out where this Alex Lotorto was right now,” she explained. “I said, ‘He’s in Pittsburgh …. and he’s probably trying to get President Obama’s attention by holding up a sign. That’s what he does. He’s been doing it for years.”

Lotorto said the officers were young and “very aggressive” at first. “They were behaving as if they only had minutes to find him …. like he was on the grassy knoll,” she said. They told her when someone threatens the President, they have to act quickly. That upset Lotorto, who was recuperating from quadruple by-pass surgery. She said she told the officers her son was “holding a sign, and that’s every American’s right.”

But she also invited them into her home, sat them down and talked with them for 20 minutes or so. She said, in the end, they called Pittsburgh in her presence and told officials there to lay off the kid.

Her son sees it a bit differently. He thinks the police were sent to his mother as a way of putting pressure on him. “They know I live (in Pittsburgh) …. Why would they go to Mom’s house?” he asked.

“After 9-11 there was an erosion of the rules and guidelines that were built to protect Americans’ privacies, because there was this mistaken idea that it was the rules that made it hard for the FBI to find the bad guys. But what we’re finding is that when you take away the rules, then what happens is that innocent people get spied on. When you look at all these cases it’s a complete waste of resources. These rules weren’t designed just for privacy; they also were for keeping these agencies focused on their mission. It was the erosion of these rules that opened the door to this kind of political spying.”

Mike German, a former FBI agent who quit to work for the American Civil Liberties Union

In an interview the day before Rendell read about the program in The Patriot-News and halted it, Powers was clearly proud of that effort. Full story


COMEDY CENTRAL VIDEO: Former PA Governor Tom Ridge interviewed on The Colbert Report
“Wash your vegetables and grill them at the same time.” Stephen Colbert

Gas Drilling Awareness Coalition vs. James F. Powers, Jr. – September 27, 2010:


PsyOps (Psychological Operations)

Definition: “Military operations usually aimed at influencing the enemy’s state of mind through noncombative means.”
From Texas Sharon’s

In late 2011, Earthworks’ Oil & Gas Accountability Project paid for me to attend an industry conference for communication executives, Media & Stakeholder Relations Hydraulic Fracturing Relations Initiative 2011.

I am not a good note-taker, not a morning person and I had not slept well the night before so I decided to tape the early morning presentations. After the first session, I ran out and got more batteries for my recorder because the revelations were so alarming.

“..having an understanding of psyops in the army and the Middle East has applied very helpfully here for us in Pennsylvania.”

Oil Executive: Military-Style ‘Psy Ops’ Experience Applied

They are calling it a war. They use the US Army/Marine 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. I have blogged about this extensively and there was some media coverage but not nearly enough.

Here is where I will lay it all out for you. This is a work in progress.


Letter received by some Mt. Pleasant Township (Hickory, PA) residents April 4, 2011:
A local church marquee graphically portrayed the fractures, in far more than just the shale, in the southwestern Pennsylvania township that first witnessed Marcellus Shale drilling and hydraulic fracturing:
Ron Gulla provided this testimony to the EPA regarding early Marcellus Shale drilling on his farm near Hickory:
Documents and images from a PA DEP file review years later:


Meantime, a regional health expert presented important testimony on shale gas production in April 2011:


Mt. Pleasant Twp. draft agreement on impoundments November 2013:


State police documents show intelligence-sharing network between law enforcement and Marcellus Shale drillers
“They’re using the state police to try to silence us.”

By Adam Federman | Pittsburgh City Paper | October 8, 2014

MSOCC is a group of “professionals with a law-enforcement background who are interested in developing working relationships and networking on intelligence issues,” according to an email sent to group members by James Hansel, regional security manager for Anadarko Petroleum.

A few months earlier, at another industry-led conference, state trooper Michael Hutson delivered a presentation on environmental extremism and acts of vandalism across Pennsylvania’s booming Marcellus Shale natural-gas reserves. He showed photographs of several anti-fracking groups in Pennsylvania, including Shadbush Environmental Justice Collective protesters demonstrating at an active well site in Lawrence County, in Western Pennsylvania. That same Pennsylvania state trooper visited the home of anti-fracking activist Wendy Lee, a Bloomsburg University philosophy professor, to question her about photos she took of a natural-gas compressor station in Lycoming County. Remarkably, the trooper earlier had crossed state lines and traveled to New York to visit Jeremy Alderson, publisher of the No Frack Almanac, at his home outside Ithaca, N.Y., to accuse him of trespassing to obtain photos of the same compressor station.

MSOCC was initiated by Anadarko Petroleum’s James Hansel, a former state trooper, to bring together industry representatives, law enforcement and prosecutors to develop a “network of intelligence sharing.” In a January 2012 email to group members, Hansel said MSOCC was seeking the participation of “law-enforcement officers assigned a position relating to intelligence and prosecutors at the county, state and federal level.” Today, the group sends intelligence updates to more than 150 recipients, including all of the major drilling companies in the Marcellus Shale, representatives of the FBI, state Homeland Security, and state and local law enforcement. Full story


Report: Police sharing intelligence on activists with gas industry
StateImpact Pennsylvania
October 8, 2014

The (Pittsburgh City) paper reports the MSOCC sends updates to more than 150 recipients, including all of the major drilling companies in the Marcellus Shale, the FBI, state Homeland Security, and state and local law enforcement.

There have been instances of hazardous materials– including pipe bombs– being found near gas drilling sites, but the incidents have not been linked publicly to environmental activists.

According to the article, a private security firm also sent an update to the Pennsylvania State Police about protesters outside the gas industry conference, Shale Insight, last year in Philadelphia. State Police spokesperson Maria Finn declined to comment on the email to the paper. She could not be immediately reached by StateImpact Pennsylvania.

“We do not have a policy regarding contracts with security firms — as we do not contract with such firms,” Finn wrote in an email to the paper.

She also told the paper the trooper who visited the activists’ homes was responding to questions about activist groups in the Marcellus Shale region.

Earlier this year, the governor’s office intervened to stop the state police from performing routine inspections on buses which transported members of the industry to a pro-gas rally in Harrisburg. Source


Back to Washington County, in the early years of leasing gas rights, are these three interesting PDF’s:
Documents from a Right to Know request in Washington County offices:
Final adjudication from the State Ethics Commission:

Part One: Global Spyware Scandal: Exposing Pegasus 
January 3, 2023 (53:15)
“Global Spyware Scandal: Exposing Pegasus” is a FRONTLINE production with Forbidden Films.

Part Two: Global Spyware Scandal: Exposing Pegasus 
January 10, 2023 (54:22)


One Comment on “MARCELLUS SHALE HISTORY: Spying & Psychological Operations on Pennsylvania Citizens 2010-2014

  1. Not sure if youve seen it, but should’ve included the “Mobile Security Van” decked out with audio and video recording; parked out front of Union Township during a big gas meeting. Not too subtle about it!

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