Pennsylvania

Energy. Environment. Economy.

In fracking hot spots, police and gas industry share intelligence on activists

Police monitor an anti-fracking protest at Gov. Wolf's inauguration in January.

Marie Cusick/ StateImpact Pennsylvania

Police monitoring an anti-fracking protest outside the state capitol during Gov. Wolf's inauguration in January.

Last month an anti-fracking group settled a lawsuit against Pennsylvania, after it was erroneously labeled a potential terrorist threat. The case dates back to 2010 and was an embarrassment for then-Governor Ed Rendell.

But documents obtained by StateImpact Pennsylvania show law enforcement here and in other parts of the country continue to conduct surveillance on anti-fracking activists, leading some to claim their Constitutional rights are being violated.

“This is scary”

It’s not hard to tell Wendy Lee is an animal lover. When I arrived at her home in Bloomsburg, I was greeted by several dogs, an iguana the size of a cat, and three birds. With her cockatiel, Quantum, by her side, she showed me her blog. Lee is a 55-year-old philosophy professor at Bloomsburg University and proud anti-fracking activist.

“My long history of political activism is on the left,” she says. “I am the author of books with titles like ‘On Marx’ if that gives you an idea.”

Anti-fracking activist Wendy Lee sorting through photos she's taken at gas sites.

Marie Cusick/ StateImpact Pennsylvania

Anti-fracking activist and philosophy professor Wendy Lee sorts through photos she's taken at gas sites. Pa. State Police won't explain why a trooper came to her home to question her last year. They cited an ongoing criminal investigation.

She often travels to gas industry sites and takes photos. Her website is filled with criticism of fracking, and she’s used to getting criticized for her views.

Still, she was surprised last February when a Pennsylvania State Trooper came to her house to ask her about a visit she’d made to a gas compressor station.

On that trip, she was joined by two other activists and took some photos of the compressor. It wasn’t long before security guards told them all to leave.

“When they tell us to leave, we left,” she recalls. “There was no altercation. There was nothing.”

As the trooper stood inside her door, he questioned her about the incident. After a while, he brought up eco-terrorism.

Lee was stunned when he asked her if she knew anything about pipe bombs.

“Part of me was like, ‘Oh this is scary. This is actually scary.’” she says. “And part of me is just laughing on the inside because it’s ludicrous.”

Lee was never charged or arrested for anything.

It turns out that same Pennsylvania trooper had already crossed state lines and traveled to upstate New York to investigate the compressor incident. He visited 65-year-old Jeremy Alderson, one of the other activists with Lee that day.

When Alderson got a knock at his home in Hector, a New York trooper was there too.

Anti-fracking activist Jeremy Alderson outside his home in Hector, N.Y.

Matt Richmond/ WSKG

Activist Jeremy Alderson outside his home in Hector, N.Y. A Pennsylvania state trooper came to his home to question him about visiting a gas site in Pa., "What possible reason do they have to come here but to intimidate me?" says Alderson.

“Having two troopers show up at your door, that’s kinda scary,” he says. “Because you don’t know what’s happened.”

While he was being questioned about trespassing, Alderson assumed the police knew about his newsletter, the No Frack Almanac. He’d published photos and an article about his visit to the compressor.

So he asked them, “Why would I publish all that if I thought I’d done something illegal?”

But neither trooper knew anything about it.

“It was clear they’d come to visit me before they had even put my name into a search engine on the internet,” says Alderson. “So this led me to believe, what possible reason do they have to come here but to intimidate me? They don’t care about information. They haven’t done a thing to get it.”

Alderson was also not charged or arrested for anything.

“A history of suppressing dissent”

The Pennsylvania Trooper, Mike Hutson, declined to comment for this story. But documents obtained by StateImpact Pennsylvania through the Right to Know Law show Hutson is part of a broader intelligence-sharing network between law enforcement and the gas industry.

It’s called the Marcellus Shale Operators’ Crime Committee. It allows the industry to swap information with local, state, and federal law enforcement about activists, protests, and potential threats.

“Energy companies have a history of suppressing dissent in this country,” says Witold Walczack, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania. “Whether it’s coal, oil, or now natural gas.”

Walczack has represented fracking opponents as clients. He says a small percentage of activists resort to crime.

There have been reports of pipe bombs, charred debris, and gunshots fired at gas sites.

“But the vast majority of people who are involved today in the anti-fracking movement are law-abiding citizens.”

A spokesman for the state’s main gas industry trade group, The Marcellus Shale Coalition, declined to comment for this story but sent an email saying, “safety is the industry’s top priority.”

But some activists complain police are trampling free speech under the guise of tracking real threats.

"We believe that collecting and disseminating information about groups engaged in lawful activities ... can and does have a chilling effect upon freedom of speech," says Gas Drilling Awareness Coalition vice president Diane Dreier

Marie Cusick/ StateImpact Pennsylvania

"We believe that collecting and disseminating information about groups engaged in lawful activities can and does have a chilling effect upon freedom of speech," says Gas Drilling Awareness Coalition vice president Diane Dreier.

The Gas Drilling Awareness Coalition is the group from northeastern Pennsylvania that recently settled a lawsuit with the state for being labeled a terrorist threat in 2010. The group’s attorney Paul Rossi says he’s disturbed to now hear about the Marcellus Shale Operators’ Crime Committee.

“We just had a ruling that this was unconstitutional,” says Rossi. “I’m about as flabbergasted as an attorney can be at the serial violations of First Amendment rights in this state.”

Both the FBI and the Pennsylvania State Police say they’re not official members of the Operators’ Committee but acknowledge they receive updates from it and have attended meetings.

J.J. Klaver is a special agent with the FBI in Philadelphia and points out part of its jobs is monitoring threats to infrastructure.

“The FBI is not in the business of investigating or tracking groups for having specific beliefs,” he says. “That’s not within our jurisdiction or within the law.”

The documents obtained by StateImpact Pennsylvania show the intelligence-sharing between police and the oil and gas industry goes on in other parts of the country too.

Surveillance in other shale plays

A man named Jim Hansel sends out many of the updates to the Marcellus Shale Operators’ Crime Committee. He’s based in Williamsport and manages security for the Texas-based gas driller, Anadarko Petroleum.

Neither Hansel nor Anadakro responded to requests to comment for this story.

In one of his early emails to the group, Hansel writes that drillers are involved in similar partnerships with law enforcement around the country– in Texas and the Rockies.

Documents obtained by StateImpact Pennsylvania show the gas industry and law enforcement have similar intelligence-sharing partnerships in other parts of the U.S., including Texas and the Rockies.

AP Photo/David Zalubowski, file

Documents show the gas industry and law enforcement have similar intelligence-sharing partnerships in other parts of the U.S., including Texas and the Rockies.

Cliff Willmeng is not surprised to hear about the surveillance. He’s a nurse and anti-fracking activist who lives near Boulder, Colorado.

“To some extent, I think we’re experiencing a sort of quasi-privatization of our legal forces,” says Willmeng.

Two summers ago he found himself under arrest– pinned down onto his driveway by a pair of police officers.

“They were yelling ‘Stop resisting!’ and my wife was watching this the entire time screaming,” says Willmeng.

Why was this happening?

According the Erie County Colorado police report, Willmeng drove up to a security guard at a gas well site and asked some questions. He was there for about 60 seconds and never got out of his car. After he left, the guard called police and said he’d felt threatened and harassed.

Two departments showed up at Willmeng’s home. In their report, the officers said he was uncooperative. They charged him with four misdemeanors: harassment, criminal trespassing, obstruction, and resisting arrest.

All the activists in this story say they feel like they’ve been targeted for their viewpoints.

It’s not clear to what extent the surveillance will continue under Governor Wolf’s new administration. His pick to head the state police, Col. Marcus Brown says he’s not familiar with the Marcellus Shale Operators Crime Committee.

“Very early on, we’ll make sure the state police are doing what they should be doing,” Brown said at a recent press conference. “If their actions are appropriate, then we’ll continue it. If they’re doing something they shouldn’t be, we’ll make sure it doesn’t go forward.”

After her visit from the Pennsylvania state trooper, blogger and Bloomsburg University professor Wendy Lee filed an open records request with the state police, trying to find out why she was questioned.

Months later, her request was denied. Among other reasons, the police said the records were part of an ongoing criminal investigation.

“They don’t tell me whether I’m the object of that investigation– which would be quite mystifying — and they don’t tell me in any way I would be connected to that investigation if I am not its object.” she says.

Lee thinks the visit was simply to intimidate her.

“While we get to believe we have the free exercise of our First Amendment rights, we’re not actually supposed to use them.”

She still hopes to get the police records and is appealing the decision.

 

This story has been updated to reflect the following correction: An earlier version of this article misstated the location of Wendy Lee’s home. It is in Bloomsburg, not Lewisburg.

Comments

  • wendylynnelee

    Thank you tremendously Marie Cusick for this important investigative story. Whether it be the gas industry, industrial scale animal agriculture, or some other large corporate enterprise, what connects them all is the willingness to go to great lengths to protect the generation of profits without obstacle or consequence. That there even exists a Marcellus Shale Operator’s Crime Committee should send a deep-going chill down the backs not only of activists, but of every citizen who believes in the right to nonviolent freedom of expression. So intimate a relationship between government, law enforcement, private security firms, and corporations like Anadarko can lead in only one direction–the suppression of our right to discover for ourselves precisely in what these hazardous industrial activities consist–and then to tell that truth to others.

    That an officer–Michael Hutson–can come to my home (or Alderson’s) for the thinly concealed purpose of intimidating and harassing via vague accusations about “pipe bombs” and “trespass” without having conducted even a modest investigation into whether these claims are true speaks volumes about his intent and objectives. His visit had, I think, nothing to do with investigation, and everything to do with the prevention of my taking pictures (some 4000), writing scathing blog entries exposing the gas company’s flagrant violations of clean water and air, and helping to organize others to do the same. That my FOIA request was denied on the grounds of “ongoing criminal investigation” is likely little more than cover for making sure I don’t find out for certain that Officer Hutson’s visit had no law-enforcement legitimacy.

    That a security guard need only make an accusation to feeling harassed in order to deliver the machinery of the state to the door of a citizen–Willmeng–can have only one purpose–making that citizen an example to others to keep quiet.

    That the Marcellus Shale Coalition declines to comment is, of course, not surprising. But where will the new governor stand here? That he’s already signed more than 40 permits to continue the ecological liquidation of the state isn’t very encouraging. It would seem indeed that the interests of the governor are perfectly consistent with the industry’s–and that means high premium on insuring the unimpeded flow of gas from the well pad to the export terminal.

    Be that as it may–even if you are the biggest proponent of natural gas fracking on the planet and think we among the opponents are nuts–I can’t imagine anyone on a different page here.

    For surveillance, intimidation, and harassment–at your own door–are not about fracking. They’re about the exercise of the civil liberties we take to be a defining feature of our citizenship.

    We take that lightly, and fracking may become the least of our problems.

    Wendy Lynne Lee

    For more, please see: http://thewrenchphilosleft.blogspot.com/2015/01/how-to-silence-dissent-and-criminalize.html

    • paulroden

      The surveillance and attempt at intimidation is nothing new. This happened in the anti-nuclear power movement as well. Not only members of law enforcement, but Philadelphia Electric Company or PECO now owned by Exelon. David Kairys’ talks about the case he handled on this in his book: “Philadelphia Freedom: Memoir of a Civil Rights lawyer” Chapter 12 “Going to School at the Electric Company”

  • David Lauer

    For police officers to harass citizens who are exercising their rights to know what is happening to their resources, their drinking water and their environment is a chilling commentary on the current state of affairs. To then be denied to know the motive for police visits to their home sounds more like a novel by Franz Kafka than anything that people should be subjected to in this day and age. For the common good, I can only hope that such intimidation will be promptly curtailed by the executive branch at the state level. If it isn´t, it will then become clear that these fascist policies come from the higher echelons of government. Hats off to the brave people who are working hard to keep the information flowing.

    • wendylynnelee

      Thank you David Lauer—

      What’s worrisome is that these policies will continue unabated under the new governor’s administration—or even accelerate–since he has so tightly tethered his promises of funding to education and other social programs to the taxation of gas revenues. The likelihood that he’ll get the taxation he wants (itself potentially disastrous since it would entrench the industry in the state’s tax base) is vanishingly small–given Republican control. Hence, he’ll looking for other ways to get a piece of the gas action to support his agenda–and with that even less regulation. That means even more hazard for Pennsylvanians–and more emphasis on making sure the flow of gas continues uninterrupted.

    • invictus2

      The NYPD is about to escalate by asking NY state to make resisting arrest a felony. What’s it going to take for people to admit our corporcrats and their purchased representatives are n times worse than King George. “When in the course of human events”. It’s time again.

      Abolish the FED
      .
      Abolish all spy agencies except one.

      Impose a ban on all political contributions by anyone who does not have the vote for the candidate or ballot issue. Money,material, or service.

      Abolish limited liability for any artificial entity.

      Due process has to be inviolable. Suspension only for earthquake, flood, or hurricane for 24 hours after impact.

      End the government to finance revolving door.

      Abolish all laws and make no laws pertaining to the physical relationships of consenting adults. Abolish all government laws on marriage.

      All relationships between consenting adults to be partnerships.

      Government may make no law infringing on individuals control of their bodies.

      Natural resources cannot be owned by individuals. All are owned by the people in common. At least 25% of all profit from the development of and production of natural resources goes to promoting public welfare and commons.

      Religion is a private matter. Religious freedom works both ways. individual personal beliefs are not legal exemption from common laws. No philosophy has the absolute truth. Religious hearsay should not be the basis of any law.

  • Brett Jennings

    There are so many ways to make an officers life hell, that it is not even funny. Then again I have approved policy and procedure sections for the departments manual. Myself, if I saw them at my door it would be, state your purpose. Then you can leave the property now. If they do not want to comply with the order, well they can suffer the consequences for trespassing.

  • Michael Valentine

    While talk of individual liberty is a talking point for democracy we are long past democracy.

    This is oligarchy along the lines of the coordinated crack down on OWS. Corporations aren’t people, they’re gods.

    • nick quinlan

      Corporations aren’t people, they are heartless, soulless, evil predators. And they have the tax payer funded police and military to protect and advance their plundering agenda, at home and abroad.

  • CitizenSane1

    “On that trip, she was joined by two other activists and took some photos of the compressor.” I would like to come forward as the third un-named activist in this article that was with Wendy Lee and Jeremy Alderson the day they visited that compressor station, I would also like to state that Wendy’s account of that day is accurate. There was absolutely no confrontation, and there was no illegal activity. We were in fact, outside the gate of the Davidson Compressor station in Sullivan County simply taking photos – nothing more. Prior to the arrival of the security guards, I had used the intercom at the gate and respectfully asked if we could possibly have a tour of the facility. After a brief pause, the attendant told me that we would have to contact the company to arrange a tour. The next day, I noticed a black GMC SUV with darkened windows first directly across the street from my home. I came out on to my front porch and looked directly at the SUV. A few minutes after I went back inside, I looked out the window and noticed the SUV slowly pull away from my home. Later, I noticed the same black SUV parked up the street facing my home. I would like to reiterate that in no way were the activities of Wendy Lee, Jeremy Alderson, or myself confrontational, threatening, trespassing, or any way what could possibly be considered illegal. In my opinion, these are nothing more than intimidation tactics being used by the PA State Police on behalf of the gas industry to silence and quell any opposition by peaceful, non-violent concerned citizens who have publicly expressed legitimate concerns about this industrial activity and exercising their constitutional right to move about freely on public roads and right to free speech.

    • wendylynnelee

      Thanks to John Trallo for reiterating the accuracy of the account of our visit to the Davidson Compressor Station. For photographs of that visit–including pictures of a large number of corroding–apparently abandoned–pipeline segments, please see the link below.

      https://www.flickr.com/photos/wendylynnelee/sets/72157634435112414/

    • CitizenSane1

      Since yesterday, I have received numerous phone calls and emails asking me why I stepped forward and publicly admitted to being the ‘third activist’. The answer is quite simple. Wendy Lee, Jeremy, Alderson, and myself weren’t doing anything wrong, illegal, or disruptive, and we’ve nothing to hide, or to be ashamed off. We were simply exercising our right to observe these operations from a public road and engage in citizen journalism under our first amendment right to free speech. Perhaps if more people would dare to step out of their comfort zone and see for themselves how this industry operates and find the courage to speak out, we could stop this assault on our communities. It’s time for Pennsylvanians to abandon their mantra of “what are you gonna do?”, and do something! We’ve got nothing to lose by standing up and fighting back that we will not lose if we do nothing. If people don’t exercise their rights, they will certainly lose them.

  • Your1Friend

    Thank you, Marie Cusick, for your courageous reporting which is all too rare in the 21st century.

    The good people of Pennsylvania have been victimized—indeed, terrorized—by corruption in high places for too long. But I am most grateful that Pennsylvanians finally got rid of a severely compromised Governor in 2014.

  • Perryjeff

    Marie Cusick’s account of the survelliance tactics used jointly by the frackers and the PA State Police is chilling. Many of us had hoped that these kinds tactics were shut down, when they were discovered (and disavowed) during the Rendell administration.
    It is apparent that the PA State Police during the Corbett administration have rejoined the frackers to spy on the citizens of PA. We should be thankful that Marie has uncovered their collusion.
    Governor Wolf now has an opportunity to show leadership by ordering the State Police to cease their surveliiance of law-abiding citizens.

  • Gary Lefebvre

    Regressing to the Coal and Iron Police during the last energy boom in PA.

  • JimBarth

    Thanks to Marie Cusick for reporting this. I hope this story sickens all Pennsylvanians, as it does me. It is a ripe and pathetic example of keystone kops working hand in glove with the radical extraction industry, in our Commonwealth (and apparently, outside of our Commonwealth in NYS).
    I would not have been surprised if Range Resources, working in Washington County, were to be in frequent contact with local law enforcement, since that is the M.O. of Range and Matt Pitzarella, and unfortunately, since a company like Range has great sway over local politicians and local law enforcement.
    But, for this contaminating industry to form a “Marcellus shale operator’s crime committee” with state trooper participation, is beyond the pale. Who pays for these troopers to go to NYS, or anywhere, at the behest of the shale gas extraction industry? For what purpose is their visit, since they are not investigating anything?
    This whole enterprise is an outrage, and it shines a very nasty light on the intentions, and incompetence, of our state trooper law enforcement. Everyone who participates in this “Committee” should be fired from law enforcement. What are they, Pinkertons?

  • JimBarth

    I also want to add the question, “how many incidents of fractivist sabatoge exist? Zero? Pipe bombs, shootings, how many? Zero? How many prosecutions in the past 10 years in PA, zero?
    Since when does non-violent protest, or walking up from a public road to a an entry guard post, and taking photographs from a public road, become “terrorist” or criminal activity?
    Compare this to the destruction, death, of a 39 mile length of Dunkard Creek, which if not totally caused by the illegal dumping of millions of gallons of Marcellus shale drilling flowback waste by Robert Allan Shipman, was certainly a major cause.
    What did Shipman pay for that? Zero jail time?
    Fractivists are not the danger, shale gas extraction in our Commonwealth is the danger, and the criminal activity that we citizens need protection from. Where are our State Troopers here? This industry causes death and destruction and it is “business as usual” that should be supported by our government and law enforcement, but our citizens deserve no protection? As I wrote, this should sicken every one in PA. It is way past time to wake up.

  • Lisa DeSantis

    Hi, my name is Lisa DeSantis and I love water, I love children, I make brownies, I garden, I paint, I sew, I have chickens, I swim, I sing, I read, I write, I show up, I cuddle my German Shepherd, I love my family….what more do you want to know?

    • paulroden

      Well in the eyes of the dirty energy industry, that makes you an “eco-terrorist.” Can’t have any interference with the pursuit of almighty profits or the holding of gas drillers, and pipeline owners to “burdensome regulations.”

  • Julieann Wozniak

    My name is Julieann Wozniak. I live in Bobtown, PA, home of Chevron’s exploding gas well. My maternal grandfather, John Rohulich was a union organizer, same exact place, in the 20s and 30s, who faced down the Klan and J&L’s corporate thug militia. I’m on the board of the Greene County Watershed Alliance, and associate freely with the Dunkard Creek Watershed Association, the Friends of Dunkard Creek, and the Upper Mon Resource Alliance. Google me; you’ll find that writing is the extent of my “terrorism” even when Fast Eddie put me on his list…inasmuch as I hobble about on a cane. If you must send a trooper to my door, make sure he’s young and handsome. I’m an old broad and could use a cheap thrill. And I find that mockery is my favorite form of protest.

    • wendylynnelee

      HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! Thank you for that lovely remark, Julieann. And you’re right–mockery can be the best weapon we under-utilize!

      It’s funny, isn’t it, that many of the usual suspects in support of the gas industry are silent on this piece. It’s easy to figure out why–they don’t want to be seen in support of the suppression of first amendment rights–even though they are.

      Thanks again!

      Wendy

  • AlSever

    Have walked on to many active drilling sites by just wearing a hard hat and Retard clothes. No one ever asked who I was or why I was there. No one ever insinuated they had anything to hide at these active drilling sites. Inactive sites is another story. Find the gas company guys more trustworthy than the so called activists .

    • Hope Forpeace

      Are you saying that if I put on a hard hat and suit up, I can film the workings of a frack site? Set that up for me, I’ll fly out and take you up on it!

      I find gas company guys are apt to dump toxins where ever they are told to. Far more harm from the toxic process than from filming it.

      • AlSever

        Have you ever actually asked to go on to a site? These guys are normal people and are not out to harm anyone. I politely asked several gas companies if a college student I knew could come on active sites and take water samples for a college project at Bucknell . No one turned her down and she was surprised how open everyone was to her.

        If you act like a jerk, you will be treated as a jerk. Put on a hard hat and Retard clothes and rive up in a 4 door white Ford pickup truck and if you even appear humanoid (unlike people in article ), you can probably wander around….but no one takes pictures without prior approval!

        I’ll bet most anti gas activists can not pass the humanoid test.

        And don’t forget to take your sidearms and driving whiskey out of your vehicle before going on a site. Why do I think none of you have either in your vehicles?

        • Hope Forpeace

          Admittedly, I don;t wave a 4 door white pickup – maybe I should have rented one. But I don;t think that would have helped. I was treated like a cancer at every site I visited, no matter how nicely I asked for a tour. I’m working on a film about fracking and did get a tour with Tom SHepstone. He drove me out to the high school to brag about how it’s surrounded by gas well on school property.

          “I’ll bet most anti gas activists can not pass the humanoid test.” Typical agit-prop.

          “driving whiskey” A-typical stupidity.

          Hook me up with a tour I can film and I’ll fly out for it.

        • JimBarth

          Mr. Sever, Jerry Sandusky is waiting for you to bring the animal crackers, and the tea. Perhaps he would better appreciate your driving around whiskey, and your side arm, however? I’m sure, since you are brothers in your interests, you would help him out, no?

        • RHytonen

          Yes – alone, emptyhanded, and not even with a camera.
          “Not without official authorization as an inspector or an employee.”

    • wendylynnelee

      Actually–that’s just a pretty silly sort of claim. I could certainly not get away with that–I am a woman. That you go in disguise is what’s more interesting.

    • RHytonen

      and I find they have done nothing but lie to and poison me and my town. On the road they are arrogant, nasty and reckless. And they have harassed my friends on their farms, coming in the dead of night and letting their animals loose.

    • RHytonen

      Obviously you haven’t read r persnally discussed the accounts of; never mind BEEN one of, those of us who are actually forced to encounter these drillers and their contractors, on a day to day basis. They are arrogant, hubristic, irresponsible, and aggressively destructive of private and public property as well as disdainful and rude to nearby landowners and the community. They are well aware they are functionally above the law and behave as one would expect. And if poisoning us, immediately with air that’s immediately painful (and long term deadly) to breathe, and the land and water forever, isn’t “terrorism; I don’t know what is. Even in a DECLARED (admitted) war, chemical warfare is an international crime.

  • Hot Tub Johnny

    I’m not sure how this is police harassment. Terrorists are known to visit possible targets and check out the security, etc. If the security guard reports to police that someone was taking photos and supplies your registration to the police, should the police not come out to your house and ask if you had a legitimate purpose? It sounds like after they answered the police man’s questions, he left and they never heard from him again. He probably realized she was not a criminal after interviewing her.

    • Hope Forpeace

      There are no serious examples of “terrorists” harming gas installations. It’s a psy-ops tactic of harassment. There is no evidence people who want clean water are “terrorists”. Do you support HHS spying on people for no reason?

    • wendylynnelee

      Anonymous Hot Tub Johnny needs perhaps to be reminded that I took these pictures from PUBLIC roads, and unless he thinks there’s some legitimating reason why THAT ought to be criminalized, the state police officer had NO reason whatever to come to my house. It is no crime to take pictures–the industry simply does not want us to see what they’re doing to us. And the notion that an industry representative can just call up the police without any evidence of wrong-doing–just a claim about something they don’t like–and dispatch the police to one’s HOME–THAT is chilling. Indeed, the notion that the word “terrorist” can be attached to my photography at ALL is ludicrous. I take these pictures in broad daylight, from public roads, in full view of their security. It is quite clear what I am doing. Finally, that the police should be dispatched to our homes in order to find out whether we’re criminals–without any reason to believe we have performed a crime makes ALL of us suspects ALL of the time. That is called a police state. Alderson put it best: if Officer Hutson had had any legitimate investigative reason for visiting us, he’d have done his womework. He clearly did not. His reasons were intimidation, pure and simple. And just because he wasn’t successful in either case does not mean this was not the intent–it simple means that Alderson and I have a better understanding of what our rights are supposed to be than Hutson does,

    • RHytonen

      The point is, The Constitution, and the very idea of American freedom, give EVERY citizen the right to AT LEAST take pictures and know what is going on. EVERY SINGLE CITIZEN should be going out and taking (and PUBLISHING) ALL the pictures possible, where police or polluter activity.is going on! WE- the EMPLOYERS and CREATORS of the gov’t, DHS, police, FBI, CIA etc.; have the right to privacy – not the corporations!
      The word “PROFIT” does NOT occur anywhere in the BIll of Rights.

  • Hope Forpeace

    “To know who is in power, find out who you can’t criticize”

    In the US, that’s the Gas and Oil Industry. After 2 years of research on the politics that keep this industry in power, I’ve had many encounters with law enforcement and Industry’s supporters engaging in intimidation. When I filmed a refinery from a public road, my supervisor got a call from homeland security. The rental car I was filming from had been turned in to HHS and they called with questions. When filming a compressor station near Carter rd in Dimock, I was photographed by staff. When I asked why, I was told they need to assess the terrorist threat. While filming fracking emissions from the shoulder of a public road, a contractor from the site ordered me out of the public space and told me he was going to call the police. I told him to go ahead and refused to move. I was with Vera Scroggins that day, her story is amazing and highlights the threat women with cameras are to this industry.

    Our taxpayer funded government agencies serve industry alone. You could call it neo-fascism – government functioning only to serve the agenda of business at the expense of the public. It’s a signal of the ultimate destruction of our democracy … by those who claim to be the ONLY real Americans. Thanks to the author and activists for this well written coverage. I hope many read it!

    • nick quinlan

      It absolutely is fascism. Our government is owned, lock, stock, and barrel by the banks, corporations and big money.
      Welcome to The United Banks and Corporations of Amerika Inc

  • Ronald Eubanks

    Not surprising at all to me. I live in Georgia, where one time a city cop told me that if I didn’t let a Comcast employee into my back yard, that he would arrest me for theft of services. It didn’t matter that I told them both that the utility pole wasn’t even in my back yard, that it was next door, where they had no side gate and were free to enter at any time. I asked the cop since when was it there job to see that a cable provider had access to anyone’s property; since they were not a utility and the city had no ownership in them. Still made no difference to him. I let them in the yard and then laughed my ass off. Not only did the cable guy not know if the pole was in my yard or not; he didn’t even know whether or not there was a utility pole anywhere near me. Dumbshits. And by the way, the cable had been turned off a month before that time from their central office.

  • pjbthree

    Law enforcement needs to recognize that it is not a crime to be annoying

  • Bill Wolfe

    They’ve been doing this for a long time – scroll down and look at the photo of the cop videoing this anti-fracking protest in Phillly:

    http://www.wolfenotes.com/2012/09/from-the-corporate-suites-pennsylvania-gov-corbett-attacks-thousands-in-the-streets/

    I was visited at my home by investigators from Homeland Security, FBI and Hunterdon County Prosecutors Office for taking photos of oil refineries in South Jersey. Investigators accused me of being a potential terrorist.

    At the time I was shooting the photos, I was detained for 2 hours, taken to police station, my car was illegally searched and my documents were taken.

    A few months later, I was stopped by Homeland Security in I-81 based on license plate scan technology. I’ve been detained for taking photos of chemical plants in several NJ towns. This was during the period when Occupy Wall Street was happening and I had been there several times.

    Police state tactics are widespread.

  • http://flippetyfloppety.blogspot.com/ karen orlando

    Here is me dissemenating some information on fractivists. Here is United for Action for one hocking misinformation on an LNG import project, the Port Ambrose project. http://unitedforaction.org/2013/07/06/stop-the-lng-liberty-port-ambrose-project/ Specifically the activists in this group who have names have used their right to “free speech” to promote that an LNG import project is exactly the opposite of what it is. (ie an export project) That they have done so simply so they can talk about fracking is likely. Not a reporter anywhere is willing to cover that though.

    The Sane Energy project is another antifracking outfit that mostly hocks misinformation. I can name a few others but the media would like to ignore that this is happening. http://saneenergyproject.org/2014/07/07/ferc-and-the-regulatory-trap/

    http://www.youareherenymap.org/ These people have been spreading misinformation for two and half years on the rockaway pipeline project and the last year and a half on Port Ambrose. And NO reporter when contacted will cover this. They are also clearly delusional about their abilities to educate people on all of the natural gas infrastructure in new york state and FERC’s permitting process.

    Most of these activists can say whatever they desire and it will be written down by a reporter somewhere. They appear to be the only people entitled to speak at all in some ways. Perhaps one of these days a reporter will actually do a story on some of the negative aspects of this activism–the misinformation and confusion being spread. Or perhaps reporters will just continue on allowing these activists to write the news in some cases.

    http://www.longislandpress.com/2013/07/31/long-islands-offshore-lng-port-proposals-critics/

    http://nyagainstfracking.org/governor-cuomo-veto-port-ambrose-now-3/

    • Hope Forpeace

      And here’s a link about the industry funded propaganda site Energy In Depth.

      I think they have the few examples you list beat cold.

      http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Energy_in_Depth

      • http://flippetyfloppety.blogspot.com/ karen orlando

        Yawn. What the point of someone who is afraid to use their name might be in referring me to energy in depth, the industry funded “propoganda” site as you say is, I fail to see. I didn’t need to read anything from an industry “propoganda” site to learn about the activists. I just needed to meet the activists . Here are some fascinating “articles” full of misinformation due primarily to antifracking activists ability to speak freely. Unfortunately that often means fact-free-ly. Or at least it has for two and half years and counting downstate new york as far as i can tell.

        http://www.nytimes.com/2013/07/31/nyregion/plans-for-a-natural-gas-port-stir-concerns-on-long-island.html

        https://indypendent.org/2014/04/04/wind-waves-and-liquified-natural-gas

        It seem Hopeforpeace that you may not be able to understand that some of the activists are lying. I guess I should include Betta Broad of Catskill Mountainkeeper and Jessica Roff who it seems these days claims to represent Catskill Mountainkeeper and New Yorkers Against Fracking. When Ms. Roff was heard speaking at the Rockaway draft EIS hearing it was Restore the Rock and Occupy the Pipeline that she mentioned working with. Its difficult to keep up with all of the things she so freely says.

        The point is that reporters will cover whether the rights of dissenters or protestors have been infringed on. As they should and as demonstrated by this reporter and this article. What reporters will not do is correct stories when asked that present almost complete misinformation if that misinformation comes from an antifracking activist, dissenter or from multiple organizations acting as a coalition. I have seen mutliple reporters flat out refuse to do this as well as refuse to ask legitimate questions when asked by citizens. Ellen Yan is one. There are many. What is the problem with reporters when it comes to this issue? The issue is not just about fracking but pipelines as well and this has long been so.

        https://kathleenrice.house.gov/media-center/in-the-news/rice-other-officials-voice-opposition-offshore-natural-gas-project

        • Hope Forpeace

          It is my name and no doubt you miss the point.

          I see your complaints about activists and raise you 7 lying paid con fracking pundits;

          Phelim Mcaleer, Ezra Levant, Tom Shepstone, Chris Faulkner, Ann Mclhenny, Alex Epstein, Steve Everley.

          Lies they tell on behalf of the Methane Industry:

          Fracking has never contaminated water, caused one ill health effect or polluted air.

          Fracking chemicals are all found under your sink.

          All victims who claim fracking impacted their water are liars – the methane was always in their water.

          I could go in .. do you need me to?

          If NYT had needed to, they would have printed a retraction.

          • http://flippetyfloppety.blogspot.com/ karen orlando

            Yawn again. NY times would not have printed a retraction. What’s to retract? Bruce Ferguson can say whatever he wants. The reporter talked to what? Two people? Was off on the date the application was submitted by Liberty by 9 months? What’s to correct? Most papers or bloggers, independent journalists wont retract or correct. Period. The response I’ve gotten from editors is something about how their reporters definitely did their own extensive research even when it is obvious they haven’t and there is nothing inherently wrong they feel with a reporter getting their entire story from activists.

            I see your 7 and raise you the following: . Eric Weltman, Food and WaterWatch, Bruce Ferguson Catskills Citizens for Safe Energy, Jill Wiener, the entire Atlantic Sierra Club! The Green Party of New York State, Sandra Steingraber via 30 days of fracking regs take two the LNG regs, David Braun of who knows what? Gasland, United for Action? New Yorkers Against Fracking? Brooklyn for Peace, Catskill Mountainkeeper’s Betta Broad and, Love NY Don’t Frack it Up’s Betta Broad and Susan Van Dolsen, Owen Crowley, Edie Kantrowitz (pretty sure some of these folks weren’t written about by natural gas industry. http://climatemama.com/blog/6324! (Climate Mama has a slogan I adore: Our mantra at ClimateMama is: Tell the truth, actions speak louder the words, and don’t be fraud. ) Alex Beauchamp, the People’s Puppets of Occupy, some wiccans in brooklyn — I’ve yet to meet anyone in your movement who has ever said something true. Want some more organization names or people’s names? How about the names of what appear to be fake organizations?

            http://www.nofrackingway.us/2015/01/21/port-ambrose-lng-export-terminal-in-trouble/ That is an amazing write up on the Port Ambrose export terminal in trouble by someone named Chip Northrup? Ever heard of him?

          • Hope Forpeace

            If NYT desk editor won’t listen to you, you likely have no case. I did find a glaring error in the article – this claim:

            ““[fracking] is proven and safe technology,”

            Its a typical claim for Methane Industry supporters. It’s a lie their industry funded think tanks train them to believe.

            What is proven is:

            Water contamination:

            http://pittsburgh.cbslocal.com/2014/08/29/dep-cites-243-cases-of-well-water-contaminated-by-drilling-wastewater/

            http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2014/01/05/some-states-confirm-water-pollution-from-drilling/4328859/

            Air contamination;

            http://www.rtcc.org/2014/10/30/fracking-may-release-cancer-causing-air-pollution-study/

            production emissions likely cancel climate change benefits;

            http://mitei.mit.edu/news/in-the-news/methane-emissions-far-worse-us-estimates-study-concludes-natural-gas-still-better-c

            and that that age of climate change is not the time to fire up the Methane Industry:

            http://www.climatecentral.org/news/arctic-methane-emissions-certain-to-trigger-warming-17374

            I’d not pick on activists when the pro-gas side has the tendency to flat out lie.

            What I was pointing out is the climate change denial machine doesn’t just do bad reporting, they lie for profit, they lie for a paycheck, they lie as paid. They to lie keep us on fossil fuels even when science is telling us that will endanger the future.

            I could list all of the industry funded think tanks that have paid for your prepackaged opinions, but I’ve save the space.

          • Michael Stone

            Where’s my uppers? I really enjoyed your article btw. I tis excellent.

          • http://flippetyfloppety.blogspot.com/ karen orlando

            My “prepackaged opinions”? Come again?

            Here is the glaring error in your comment. You have slapped the word “fracking” in front of the words “is proven and safe technology” and appear to want to make the case that someone said this in the NY times article. However the statement you are referring to is nowhere in the article at all.

            Liberty Natural Gas LLC filed their application on September 28, 2012. http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=USCG-2013-0363-0001

            Bruce Ferguson is quoted in the article saying the following ““An import facility just isn’t credible. If there’s a deepwater port off Long Island, it’s going to be irresistible to fracking.”

            There is no credible evidence period to support Mr. Ferguson’s statement. A conspiracy theory was created that the Port Ambrose LNG import project was actually intended to export not to import. There is no evidence that this is the case.

          • Hope Forpeace

            Yes, I think you actually know very well what you are repeating are industry talking points – would the LNG or fracking industry have phrased them any differently? Not much.

            What do you think is being referred to as “proven safe” in the article?

          • http://flippetyfloppety.blogspot.com/ karen orlando

            Hope. You need to add four letters to the end of your name. They are L-E-S-S. Unlike you it seems I learned how to read a long time ago and I can actually comprehend what I am reading. I can also form my own opinions. I don’t have to “think” about what is being referred to as “proven and safe techonology” in the NY times article where Bruce Ferguson hocked a conspiracy on Port Ambrose so he could talk about fracking. It is clear that the person being quoted is referring to the technology of the port.

            The people I have met who cannot think for themselves and speak in ‘talking points’ are usually activists.

          • Hope Forpeace

            Generally, when you ask a well trained oil industry supporter a valid question you get bologna like this:

            “You need to add four letters to the end of your name. They are L-E-S-S.”

            ” I don’t have to “think” about what is being referred to as “proven and safe technology” ”

            I don’t have to think was original, though. Y’all don’t usually admit that part.

            Liberty Gas would like it if we listen to you. You’re here on their errand – calling their opposition liars.

            Do you have any proof that port will never export?

          • http://flippetyfloppety.blogspot.com/ karen orlando

            Oh please. Liberty would like it if we listen to you actually. Then they can just talk about how their project is awesome because it isn’t about fracking.

            You seem insane as you are writing to one person and referring to me as “y’all”. How many people do you think I actually am? Unlike folks who pretend to represent many more people than they do (example: Sane Energy project) I am speaking as an individual.

            Why should I have to prove that LIberty Natural Gas will never export? The theory that it is intended to is contrived. There is a project currently under construction off of the very same existing pipe that Liberty would like to interconnect with. This is Williams Rockaway Lateral Pipeline project. There are people who also tried to make the claim that this project was secretly intended for export too. That did not catch on however like the conspiracy theory that Port Ambrose is for export did.

            Maybe fractivists would like to fill us in on how they were integral in stopping the Broadwater LNG project in Long Island Sound too? Perhaps Transco’s existing New York Lower Bay Lateral was built decades ago so that someday soon Liberty Natural Gas could export?

            Why is my name on the Rockaway project certificate order? Oh I imagine it is because I secretly work for Liberty or some other gas company.

          • Hope Forpeace

            Using Y’all makes me look insane? Silly.

            “Then they can just talk about how their project is awesome because it isn’t about fracking.”

            Also silly, what gas would they be exporting that wasn’t fracked?

            “Why is my name on the Rockaway project certificate order? Oh I imagine
            it is because I secretly work for Liberty or some other gas company.”

            ?? I never said it was.

            Have you seen the contract, or new of the contract between Cabot Oil and Gas and China? The evidence that the fossil fuel industry will push for exportation is robust. I have no doubt you, as an industry supporter, would spend your time claiming they have no such intentions. Of course, you actually have no idea. That’s the power of the industry’s talking points, asnd generally the people who forward them are their employees. We’re used to that, they have a paid army as they complain activists are paid by Russia.

          • RHytonen

            Um, Sierra Club (for one I know) is funded by the gas & oil industry and has no credibility anywhere.

          • Hope Forpeace

            What you have there is a mendacious industry talking point.

    • RHytonen

      There is no such thing as a one way LNG port.

    • Hope Forpeace

      Here is the mouth piece for Canadian oilsands .. his claim – and it is a widespead industry claim – is exporting is coming.

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qXCUk0WTNuQ

      @7;00

      Ezra Levant is – lets say – a very bad journalist, if one could even attach that title to him, and no real expert. But he is an expert in oil industry talking points and propaganda .. and the claim of export IS part of tar sands propaganda.

      • http://flippetyfloppety.blogspot.com/ karen orlando

        So I guess from what you are saying I should assume that Liberty’s project is now somehow actually about tar sands?

        Liberty’s project has a file. Their prior project disapproved by Governor Christie also has a file. Their current project appears to look similar to their amended application with the intent to place the project where it is from February of 2012. I guess I must have gotten that information from Ezra Levant???

        • Hope Forpeace

          No, you should protest HIS inaccuracy as much as any activists. Plus he makes his lucrative living lying to his audience in service to that industry.

          And you might also face the fact that nat gas exportation IS an industry claim at times. Other times they deny it.Many of their talking points contradict each other.

          • Heath Strock

            It is a sad day when SunocoLogistics has PA State Police officers at their meetings to insure the security of the people sent out to initially lie to the public about the Pipeline projects affecting the people along their current pipeline plan route. (You Do NOT have to let anyone on your personal property) Who pays the PA State Police? Apparently whatever large corporation that feels intimidated or anticipates angry citizens. http://www.NoHarmToTheFarm.com

          • Hope Forpeace

            A very sad day indeed. Well said.

  • Anne Ryan

    The trend in this country is to view the citizen as potential criminal while all around them criminal activities called by other names are protected. The last person who counts is the every day citizen.

  • canyonguy

    NPR Keep it up and one day perhaps I will rethink if your truly progressive.

  • canyonguy

    Maybe someday I will get to see this story on the tube?

    • canyonguy

      I might even contribute again when I see more progressive issues

  • physicsandchem

    I wonder what the cop’s reaction would be if I answered “Of course I know how to make a pipe bomb. I’m a chemist.” I have never made one, but I know how. Any Chemist should.

    • RHytonen

      I’ve always believed we should ALL talk and chatter as radically as possible so they KNOW how upset people are. And that they would have to surveil EVERYONE. Reaching that point makes surveillance meaningless and prevention of direct action impossible. That’s the point when the people will have beaten fascism.

      • physicsandchem

        We are talking about different reactions. My answer would be simple truth. I am a Chemist. For a chemist, making a pipe bomb is a simple matter. That does not make me any sort of radical.

  • RHytonen

    Two words:Harassment lawsuits.

    • nick quinlan

      But, if the State Police are captured by industry, so are the courts and judges.

      • RHytonen

        True that but “it goes on their permanent record” for when folks finally DO begin to care enough to stop it.

      • itisi_08543

        They are.

  • A More Ethical Banana

    Marcellus Shale Operators’ Crime Committee

    They seem to have picked a very descriptive name………..

  • Newsrocket

    We live in a nation run by angry white, aging Christian men whose autocratic grip and penchant for violence is their main strategy to maintain “control.” And it is beyond alarming that they are very busy infecting our young law enforcement agents with their sickness.

  • Miriam

    This is what fascism looks like.

  • Jay Walsh

    Unless they have a warrant, tell them to go pound sand, then file a private citizen, private criminal complaint! Cite harassment, file it with FBI ONLY
    JOHN WALSH
    FOUNDER OF OCCUPY WALL STREET
    A JESUS MOVEMENT
    SPIRITUAL IN NATURE

  • JASON

    You idiots…Take all the antis and put them in a building without heat…OH GRAB TOM WOLFE AND PUT HIM THERE TOO..FRAC ON PA

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