Occupy the Earth: Militant Oil Execs Deploy "Psy Ops," Call Environmentalists "Insurgents"

Last week at the oil industry conference at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Houston, oil executives met to brainstorm and discuss "media and stakeholder relations," or how to market, fracking.  But destroying the Earth is a hard thing to sell. So, as two panelists at this most honorable convention revealed, oil execs suggest  - and have already begun - mimicking the military as a marketing strategy. 

That's right. To oil executives, environmental activists are "insurgents" who may best be handled with "counterinsurgency" tactics - straight from the Army/Marine Corps Counterinsurgency manual.  Going even further, oil executives are so threatened by these "insurgent" activists they have hired "psy ops" specialists to overcome communities and local governments. Sounds a lot like an occupation. 

According to CNBC, who obtained an audiotape of the event:

In a session entitled “Designing a Media Relations Strategy To Overcome Concerns Surrounding Hydraulic Fracturing,” Range Resources communications director Matt Pitzarella spoke about “overcoming stakeholder concerns” about the fracking process.

We have several former psy ops folks that work for us at Range because they’re very comfortable in dealing with localized issues and local governments,” Pitzarella said. “Really all they do is spend most of their time helping folks develop local ordinances and things like that. But very much having that understanding of psy ops in the Army and in the Middle East has applied very helpfully here for us in Pennsylvania.”

At another session, Matt Carmichael, the manager of external affairs forAnadarko Petroleum  spoke on the topic of “Understanding How Unconventional Oil & Gas Operators are Developing a Comprehensive Media Relations Strategy to Engage Stakeholders and Educate the Public.”

He said he had several recommendations for the oil industry media professionals at the event, one of which, he said, involved the military.

Download the U.S. Army-slash-Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Manual, because we are dealing with an insurgency,” Carmichael said. “There’s a lot of good lessons in there and coming from a military background, I found the insight in that extremely remarkable.”

 Activist Sharon Wilson, the director of the Oil & Gas Accountability Project for the nonprofit environmental group Earthworks, attended the conference and sent the tapes to CNBC.  “What’s clear to me is that are having to use some very extreme measures in out neighborhoods,” Wilson told CNBC, “And it seems like they view it as an occupation."

Attendees downplayed the seriousness of the remarks, but Wilson remained surprised by their open discussion of military techniques.  ”This was crossing a line — they considered it was on the American people, sort of like they are going in and occupying our land — which is what they are doing,” said Wilson. 

Read more here

AlterNet / By Kristen Gwynne

Posted at November 8, 2011, 9:08am

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