Canadian police visited Pennsylvania to learn about fracktivists
Canadian police visited their American counterparts in Williamsport last year to learn more about how to deal with public resistance to shale gas development.
After a protest against exploratory seismic testing in Rexton, New Brunswick turned violent, six members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) took a three-day trip to Williamsport in June 2014, according to documents recently obtained by the Halifax Media Co-op. In a travel itinerary, the RCMP said they were concerned about “considerable protests and criminality with a great deal of rhetoric and misinformation from many sources.”
A spokeswoman for the RCMP’s J Division confirmed the trip took place and cited the Rexton protest as the impetus. She would not say whether the Canadian officers were working with a Williamsport-based group called the Marcellus Shale Operators’ Crime Committee (MSOCC). As StateImpact Pennsylvania has previously reported, the MSOCC is a partnership between drillers and federal, state, and local law enforcement that monitors threats to gas infrastructure.
There are similar intelligence-sharing partnerships between police and oil and gas drillers in other parts of the United States. Activists have complained the groups stifle dissent, while the industry cites a need to protect critical infrastructure. Pennsylvania State Police spokeswoman Maria Finn says troopers occasionally attend the MSOCC’s bi-monthly meetings.
In Pennsylvania, activists have recently been arrested for chaining themselves to roads near gas well sites, and trespassing to block pipeline construction. But Finn says in over a decade of shale development here, there have not been any charges of eco-terrorism related to the gas industry.