30 June 2014

The FBI may have you on a terrorist list. Have you been to see “Gasland” or attended a zoning meeting on fracking?


The Columbus Free Press obtained a July 23, 2013 FBI's Philadelphia Joint Terrorism Task Force report on “Environmental Extremists.” The FBI and the Pennsylvania State Patrol coauthored the report that lumps virtually all activists engaged in protests against fracking for natural gas together as potential violent terrorists. The report includes photos of protests and protestors in Ohio along with photos of low grade black powder pipe bombs found unarmed and undetonated near natural gas drilling operations in rural Pennsylvania.


Madeline ffitch, of Millfield, Ohio, was arrested for blockading an entrance way to a fracking wastewater injection well site on June 26, 2012. She was arrested while locked to two 50-gallon cement filled drums, effectively shutting down the well site. Despite engaging in nonviolent civil disobedience ffitch’s photo is displayed in the FBI report.


Activists wearing hazmat suits holding signs saying: “I don’t want to drink radioactive waste,” trespassed at the Greenhunter Water storage facility to protest radioactive fracking wastewater storage in New Matamoros, Ohio on Tuesday, February 19, 2013. Photos of the activists are also included in the FBI report.


Ten protestors were arrested and charged only with misdemeanors, despite the efforts of an unidentified gas and oil attorney who appeared at their court hearing and demanded that they be charged with felonies as “terrorists.”


The FBI report was shared with the law enforcement community. It was also shared with owners and operators of “Critical Infrastructure and Key Resources” that are critical to national economic security. The only non-government agency listed as receiving these reports was the Marcellus Shale Operators Crime Committee. Marcellus Shale refers to a geological formation of shale beneath New York, Pennsylvania, West Virginia and parts of Ohio that is rich in natural gas that can be accessed via fracking.


Database searches of corporate registrations in Pennsylvania, Ohio, West Virginia and Delaware revealed no entities known as Marcellus Shale Operators Crime Committee, or Association, or Bowling League, or anything else. Thus the FBI appears to be sharing information with an industry group that has no official existence.


What does exist is a Pennsylvania based lobbying group known as the Marcellus Shale Coalition which has employed 15 registered lobbyists in Pennsylvania and one in New Jersey over the last four years. The group is composed of representatives of all the companies involved with fracking, down to subcontractors such as accounting firms and hotel chains that provide housing for remote well operators. The group has several committees but no crime committee. Many of the same fracking companies who make massive campaign contributions to Ohio legislators are members of the Marcellus Shale Coalition.


The coalition has employed former Secretary of Homeland Security and Pennsylvania Governor Tom Ridge as a lobbyist. Ridge also sits on the group's advisory board. In 2010, Ridge's lobbying firms have received $900,000 from the fracking industry for lobbying and consulting services, according to a report by the non-profit research group Public Accountability Initiative. The same report outlined how former Pennsylvania environmental officials are now directly working for the fracking industry. As in Ohio, regulators have very little negative to say about this industry that is part of our national economic security.


Concurrent with the beginning of Ridge's tenure as a shill for the industry, homeland security reports began to surface that showed a clear pattern of targeting anti-fracking activists for surveillance. The Pennsylvania Office of Homeland Security issued an alert in 2010 that also spotlighted anti-fracking activists and all but explicitly conflated any opposition to fracking with terrorism.


This alert, titled Pennsylvania Intelligence Bulletin 131, listed many events that it considered related to possible terrorism that were slated to take place in the latter part of 2010. Amongst the noted events were two Municipal hearings on fracking, two hearings on zoning ordinances that concerned fracking and a single screening of the anti-fracking film Gasland in Philadelphia. Citizens attending zoning board meetings and moving screenings are of apparent state-wide and national concern to counter-terrorist agencies if it is the wrong movie or the zoning regulations might negatively impact the profit margins of an energy company.


It appears that any desire to have clean water that is free of radioactivity on the part of any citizen is now a terrorist act.


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Note: Bob Fitrakis was one of the attorneys that represented Madline ffitch.