Pennsylvania

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Report: police sharing intelligence on activists with gas industry

Protesters outside a gas industry trade conference in Philadelphia last year.

Kim Paynter/ WHYY

Protesters outside a gas industry trade conference in Philadelphia last year. According to the Pittsburgh City Paper, a private security firm watching them sent an update to the Pennsylvania State Police.

According to the Pittsburgh City Paper, state and federal law enforcement have joined in an intelligence-sharing network with the oil and gas industry to follow the activities of environmental activists.

The paper cites documents it obtained showing a state trooper giving a presentation to industry representatives with photographs of several anti-fracking groups.

According to the article, the same trooper visited the homes of activist Wendy Lee, a Bloomsburg University professor, and crossed state lines to visit the home of Jeremy Alderson, publisher of the No Frack Almanac, at his home outside Ithaca, New York.

From the Pittsburgh City Paper:

The photo, presentation and house visits are part of a little-known intelligence-sharing network that brings together law enforcement, including the FBI, Pennsylvania Office of Homeland Security, the oil and gas industry, and private security firms. Established in late 2011 or early 2012, the Marcellus Shale Operators’ Crime Committee (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.

The MSOCC has taken a keen interest in environmental activists and anti-fracking groups, according to documents obtained through a state Right to Know request. The collaboration raises questions about the increasingly close ties between law enforcement and the natural-gas industry in Pennsylvania, and whether law enforcement has violated the civil liberties of protesters and environmental groups in its effort to protect the state’s most controversial industry.

The 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.

Comments

  • Jack Wolf

    Better get our your notebooks, little men, because this is going viral. But, I suppose you have your hands full trying to identify all the Pennsylvanian at the NYC Peoples Climate March.

  • Julieann Wozniak

    Dear jackbooted thugs: my name is Julieann Wozniak. I live in Bobtown. I believe PEMA already has me on a list. My crimes are being far too literate for my own good and refusing to get with the program. And taking after my late mother. Her dad was a notorious mine workers’ union organizer back in the day. He didn’t back down when threatened with violence by coal goon. I won’t back down in the face of your illegal, antidemocratic harassment. I refuse to live in a police state or a Putin-style oligarchy.

  • paulroden

    Sharing of information with law enforcement by private companies light investor owned, electric power companies, dirty energy companies, etc. is nothing new. The government and private industry has been doing this for years. The book “The Burglary: The Secret FBI of Edgar Hoover by Betty Medsgar and attorney David Kairies, in his book “Philadelphia Freedom: Memoir of a Civil Rights Attorney, both document the FBI’s COINTELL program to disrupt and intimidate new left, anti-war, civil rights, environmental and other activist groups exercise their First Amendment Rights, When I was a member of the Keystone Anti-Nuclear Alliance, someone sent us anonymously a copy of a Telex, asking for information from any state or local law enforcement group about the Keystone Anti-Nuclear Alliance and any names of its members and affiliations from across the state, nation and the world. David Kairys represented the Keystone Alliance and many of its members in a proceeding before the PA Public Utilities Commission or PUC on surveillance by PECO, the Philadelphia Electric Company, now a subsidiary of Exelon Energy, company to cease and desist in spending money on surveillance and using rate payer money to promote the use of electricity through “Cheap, safe and reliable nuclear power.” The PUC ordered them to stop wasting rate payer money on spying and printing nuclear propaganda. All of this spying is an attempt to intimidate members of the opposition. They are feeling threatened, so this really is a good sign. It means that we as a movement are scaring them to do stupid things, that are clearly a threat to our First Amendment Rights to “peaceably assemble and petition our government for grievances.” If we stop the use of fossil fuel, establish a decentralize network of smart grids in neighborhoods, conservation, mass transit, energy efficient buildings, recycling, the dirty energy industry will loose profit sand power. By developing an alternative, self sufficient network of neighborhood micro grids, we threaten their power and control over us.

    • Jack Wolf

      After the NSA, I can almost live with spying. But, intimidation or retribution is quite another story.

  • Lisa DeSantis

    I have never been in better company, never met a more eclectic, knowledgeable, caring group. It really comes down to the fact that “I Love Water, period, clean water.”

  • Tequila_Mckngbrd

    Finally, the government is doing something against the radicals in this country.

    • Jack Wolf

      The Latin meaning of radical means “the root of the problem”.

  • SJDinAudubon

    Corbett’s State Trooper Gestapo are no more than Whores for the Frackers, just like One-Term Tommie himself. ANY state employee working with the frackers should be fired and indicted for Corruption.

  • JimBarth

    Wendy Lynn Lee, and Jeremy Alderson, must be doing something right. The PA trooper crossed state lines to question Alderson? He needs to be fired. His supervisor needs to be fired, the head of the PA troopers needs to be fired. The PA Homeland Security head needs to be fired, and finally Tom Corbett needs to be fired.
    I thought this kind of embarrassment was taken care of at the end of the previous PA Administration’s time, when “fractivists” were reported on and spied on by a private Israeli based security firm engaged by PA Homeland Security. Clearly not. These people are disgusting, and those lessor pro frac’ers who laugh and support money pissed away by the PA government on this type of behavior, are disgusting.

  • MrPittsburgh

    We’re watching you too, smile for the camera!

    • Jack Wolf

      When do we change our name to Russia?

  • George Wythe

    I find it so wonderful the state & federal law enforcement is FINALLY keeping a close watch on the ‘environmental activists’ who constantly try to disturb all energy like natural gas.
    These ‘activists’ are commonly doing anything they think is possible to convince other fools like themselves, to damage energy companies. They start their BS with the constant lies they tell, which they back up with ‘studies’ by groups of bigger BS’ers,
    then trespass on properties which they DO NOT OWN, and either just get in the way of drillers or plant BOMBS!
    I hope the government arrests ANY who try to damage any gas companies, AND the people who OWN those properties!!

    • Martin_vanburen

      Shouldn’t the government arrest anyone who tries to or actually does damage property not their own? Including gas companies?

      • paulroden

        Now that the Supreme Court of the US considers corporations people, how do you arrest a corporation?

        • Martin_vanburen

          Put the CEO, board and all other officers in handcuffs and book them.

    • Jack Wolf

      How about when the fracking companies steal the gas beneath property they don’t own?

      “The Garza opinion gives oil and gas operators a blank check to steal from the small landowner,” wrote John Preston Bailey, a United States District judge in Wheeling, West Virginia.

      http://stateimpact.npr.org/texas/2013/07/30/does-fracking-steal-oil-gas-from-neighbors/

  • wendylynnelee

    For most of the posters here, thank you. Thank you tremendously for this out-pouring of support and so clear an articulation of just what is going on here. Indeed, this is not merely about spying, it is about the harassing of activists, and the criminalization of dissent. In a sense this isn’t even about fracking–it’s about what kind of nation we think we live in, and the one we want to live in. What’s painfully clear with respect to MSOCC is that it puts the lie to the claim that the Pennsylvania State Police act to protect the rights and safety of citizens; it does not. Officer Mike Hutson works to protect the prerogatives, public image, and the profit margins of the gas thugs. And that is what they richly deserve to be called. Why? Because they can dispatch an officer paid by the people to the home of an activist in the middle of a snowy day in February WITHOUT ANY WARRANT, and hence NO announced reason for being there. He then makes vague references to “photographs” and “tresspassing,” and then to pipe bombs.

    There is no other appropriate description for this other than INTIMIDATION.

    The fact is that this industry does not want people to SEE what they’re doing to our state, our communities, our ecologies–US. Fact is, I have THOUSANDS of pictures of precisely the devastation the industry calls “business as usual.” I have a very good camera. I know my rights to be on public roads. I am difficult to scare off even when jackboot security guards hired to keep the people off of public roads make a sincere effort–by calling the state police, having me followed, tapping my phone–and coming to my HOME.

    And I have a message for MSOCC: you will NOT intimidate me with your surveillance, your corrupted bought off officers, your efforts to criminalize the exercise of my first amendment rights. In fact, you accomplish nothing here but galvanizing my resolve to organize, to write, and to photograph your debauchery.

    I am a CITIZEN. And regardless the fact that this is certainly no democracy, I am going to continue to ACT on the hope that I am wrong.

    As for Mr. Wythe–I can only assume your post is intended to be incendiary for the sake of being incendiary, since otherwise it so wholly misses the point that I can only wonder if you read the piece at all.

    Wendy Lynne Lee

    For the original story of Officer Hutson’s visit, please see: http://thewrenchphilosleft.blogspot.com/2014/02/when-gas-industry-uses-state-police-to.html

    For albums that chronicle the systematic destruction of Northeast Central Pennsylvania, please see: https://www.flickr.com/photos/wendylynnelee/sets/

  • Peter Puleo

    The line between politics and policing can be thin and frightening for a free society.
    Peter J. Puleo Author- “Cop on the Scene: Life and Death on the Street” on Amazon.

  • David

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  • JoAnne Bruno
  • Karen M Sabella

    Lol seriously um yes public land sure as hell is for privite profit. This is america re re’s you profit off anything off anyone anytime you can no remprse no exseptions in this country it’s all about makeing that dollor and doing it tax free.

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