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PA's Dept. of Homeland Security Shared Oil-Shale Protester Info With Companies 293

Western Pennsylvania's shale oil deposits have lately attracted interest not only from companies who have been extracting some of that oil, but from locals who object to what they perceive as sharp dealing by the companies involved, favorable treatment by the state government, and environmental degradation as a result of the extraction. Some of the most visible of those protesters, it turns out, have been tracked (including "Web traffic") by Pennsylvania's own Homeland Security department, and that information about them has been shared not only within the department, but with the oil companies themselves. Homeland Security director James Powers defended the information shared with the oil companies as part of a triweekly bulletin, saying "We want to continue providing this support to the Marcellus Shale Formation natural gas stakeholders while not feeding those groups fomenting dissent against those same companies."
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PA's Dept. of Homeland Security Shared Oil-Shale Protester Info With Companies

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  • Gasland (Score:5, Informative)

    by DeadCatX2 ( 950953 ) on Tuesday September 14, 2010 @08:34PM (#33582090) Journal

    This isn't new. There are youtube videos of the water coming out of people's kitchen faucet catching on fire. []

    The process to remove natural gas and oil from shale is extremely complicated. Many companies won't even tell you what chemicals they use; they claim it's a "trade secret". They tell you that everything's okay, but you know for a fact that some of that cocktail they're pumping into the ground simply must be a carcinogen. And if they're drilling on your land, and you get your water from a well (and that's a lot of people in western PA), then you better believe that their fracking chemicals (hydraulic fracturing) are leeching into the local water table.

    Naturally, there are also plenty of loopholes in the regulations to make sure that Corporate America can continue to rape and plunder low-life commoners like you and me.

    For lots more information, go watch Gasland. []

  • by Culture20 ( 968837 ) on Tuesday September 14, 2010 @09:01PM (#33582156)
    Hypocracy? What hypocracy? Total Government control is a party platform.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday September 14, 2010 @09:27PM (#33582254)

    3. Sued by every person whose information was "shared."

    4. Prosecuted by the attorney general of the state.(and if he refuses to prosecute, by the US Attorney General.)

    Will be interesting to see how this plays in New York State, where there are currently hearings going on about what regulation should be applied to "fracking". Western/southern NY State is also over the same gas bearing shale deposits as PA, but drilling has been put on hold pending a resolution of the debate between drillers and residents (rural and small towns) worried about their well water and other ecological damage.

    There are also land owners on the side of the drillers, since the potential lease income from a well is significant in many poor rural areas.

    In the watershed area in the Catskills that serves NY City, I believe there is a stronger ban on drilling/fracking, but don't know the details.

  • Re:Tell me again... (Score:5, Informative)

    by youngone ( 975102 ) on Tuesday September 14, 2010 @09:48PM (#33582344)
    That would likely be true if The US were not just a one party state. Also have a look at this: [] Take special note of this bit: "Fascists seek to organize a nation according to corporatist perspectives, values, and systems, including the political system and the economy." That's pretty much exactly what is happening here.
  • Full Circle (Score:5, Informative)

    by Voline ( 207517 ) on Tuesday September 14, 2010 @10:34PM (#33582540)

    This is apropos because the Pennsylvania State Police began in the early 19th century as the private Iron and Coal Police of the mine and mill owners. The owners tired of paying for their muscle all by themselves and recruited the taxpayers of Pennsylvania to chip in by getting the State of Pennsylvania to ... what's the opposite of "privatize"? Publicize? Anyway, the State adopted the bosses' private security apparatus as a whole, changed its name to the State Police, and started to pay their salaries to do what they had been doing anyway: fighting the unions and communities that were struggling to improve wages and working conditions in the coal mines and steel mills of Pennsylvania.

    This is all detailed in Kristian Williams's excellent history of the police in America Our Enemies in Blue [] .

  • Re:Tell me again... (Score:5, Informative)

    by jcr ( 53032 ) < .ta. .rcj.> on Tuesday September 14, 2010 @10:39PM (#33582576) Journal

    That problem predates fascism by a couple of centuries. Adam Smith knew it as "mercantilisim".


  • Re:Full Circle (Score:4, Informative)

    by IndustrialComplex ( 975015 ) on Tuesday September 14, 2010 @10:40PM (#33582578)

    what's the opposite of "privatize"? Publicize?


  • by PopeRatzo ( 965947 ) * on Tuesday September 14, 2010 @11:10PM (#33582740) Journal

    James F. Powers, Jr, Director of Homeland Security for Pennsylvania, works for the energy industry. Since especially in Pennsylvania, the energy industry wrote every regulation that deals with coal, natural gas or oil, I wouldn't be a bit surprised if the state's energy regulations required the release of personal information of anyone protesting fossil fuel development.

    Further, here's the bio on Mr Powers:

    From 2001 through mid 2006, Director Powers served as a Special Operations consultant with KWG Consulting of Waterford, Virginia; an adjunct Faculty Instructor with the U.S. Army War College, Carlisle Barracks, PA; and a Senior Fellow with the Joint Special Operations University, United States Special Operations Command, Hurlburt Field, FL.

    Prior to serving as a consultant and Senior Fellow, Mr. Powers served over 30 years as a career U.S. Army Special Forces officer attaining the rank of Colonel. His command and staff assignments comprised tours in Europe, Africa, the Middle East, Korea, and Washington, D.C. In his last assignment on Active Duty, Colonel Powers served as the Director of Special Operations Studies, U.S. Army War College, Carlisle Barracks, PA.

    The important part of this bio is the fact that from 2001 through 2006, Powers served as a "Special Operations" consultant with KWG Consulting of Waterford, Virginia. If you look up "KWG Consulting" you don't find much. A half-million dollar budget and "from 1-4 employees" and nothing more. However (and this part's important), KWG Consulting is affiliated with KWG Resources, a multi-national mining and energy conglomerate, that's heavily involved in coal, oil and gas pipelines and railroads that carry coal, oil and gas.

    So, it appears we have a hot shot special forces colonel who took big money to sell his services to foreign corporate interests, got himself appointed to Pennsylvania's DHS (what a coincidence!) and is now working as a hit man for the fossil fuel industry.

    The next time you want to argue with me when I say that corporations have become much more powerful than any national government in the world, remember this little story, all true. I believe the government of the United States, especially, has been replaced by corporate interests since at least 1980, and the stuff we see with elections and campaigns and political discourse is nothing but theater to keep us occupied while transnationals consolidate their position as the true government of the world. The only reason we still have something called a government here in the US is to provide an enforcement arm to the corporations and to keep some semblance of order to provide a conducive environment for corporate profits and growth.

  • Re:Tell me again... (Score:3, Informative)

    by shutdown -p now ( 807394 ) on Tuesday September 14, 2010 @11:15PM (#33582786) Journal

    I hear all the time about how government protects people from corporations, and that's why we have to keep giving government more and more power.

    Merely giving government the power is not enough. You also need to hold it accountable for the use of said power.

    This is actually true of anyone, not just the government. The reason why government is still preferable over corporations is that we do have some means of holding the government accountable in a democracy - even if they are growing more and more theoretical in a malfunctioning one such as yours. Corporations do not have any such means even in theory.

  • by TooMuchToDo ( 882796 ) on Tuesday September 14, 2010 @11:53PM (#33583058)

    Last I heard, there was an outright ban on natural gas fracking in NY due to their concerns over the damage to the underground aquifer.

  • Re:Problem? (Score:5, Informative)

    by blackraven14250 ( 902843 ) on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @12:05AM (#33583130)
    You can't do this. Natural gas eats RO membranes, which would be the kind of filter you'd need for the drilling fluids also present in the well water.
  • Re:Tell me again... (Score:3, Informative)

    by conspirator57 ( 1123519 ) on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @12:11AM (#33583190)

    "winding down" here having the value of :s/US military/mercenaries/g
    oh, i'm sorry we call mercs "security consultants" these days. i almost missed that memo.

  • Tom Ridge (R-PA) (Score:5, Informative)

    by Doc Ruby ( 173196 ) on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @12:30AM (#33583290) Homepage Journal

    Tom Ridge was the first Homeland Security chief, installed by Bush/Cheney. He's the guy who helped Bush/Cheney fake terror alerts [] timed to win elections. Ridge was [] Pennsylvania's governor until shortly before he headed Homeland Security, after decades at the top of Pennsylvania politics and police.

    The PA Homeland Security department is completely compliant with Tom Ridge's way of doing business.

  • by Doc Ruby ( 173196 ) on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @12:34AM (#33583308) Homepage Journal

    Except the Democratic governor was "appalled", and halted the practice [] once he found out.

    Republicans are never appalled, except by people exercising our rights, and never halt a tyrannical practice, even when found out.

  • Re:Tell me again... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Mitsoid ( 837831 ) on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @01:27AM (#33583492)
    Disclaimer: I am an independent voter, I'm not for or against any party as a whole

    Well you didn't cite, so I had to use wikipedia to find the information. []

    The last SOFA before bush left said combat troops would be removed only from cities, not from the country.
    The SOFA also stated that non-combat troops would remain up to 2 years later.
    The entire agreement was renewable

    So you could say Bush set it in motion, however you could also say there's no guarantee we would have left.
    If people wanted to get out, Obama clearly pushed that as his platform

    Another fun fact (from wiki, 'cause I'm too lazy to follow their citation trail): Apparently in the SOFA agreement if the Iraqi interim government says GTFO, the US has 1 year to leave... They haven't requested the US leave yet
  • by yuna49 ( 905461 ) on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @07:46AM (#33584978)

    Rendell wasn't appalled enough to fire anyone, though.

    From the Inquirer article: "Rendell said that he will not fire or discipline anyone in the Office of Homeland Security, headed by director James F. Powers Jr., for the lapse. But he said he ordered the office to terminate its contract with Philadelphia-based Institute of Terrorism and Research Response, which he said has been paid $125,000 in the last year to gather data about possible security threats."

    Unless heads roll it's hard to see what pounding the podium will do to deter future antics like these.

  • by radtea ( 464814 ) on Wednesday September 15, 2010 @10:08AM (#33586460)

    DHS provides information to a company about someone who poses a real security risk to them (the company).

    I have an epistemological question: how do you know?

    You're making claims as to the information that the people at DHS have, but seem to think that that information is necessarily sound. In fact, all the people at DHS can have is suspicions. If they had more, they would be charging people (unless they are incompetent as well as corrupt, which is always a possibility.)

Thus spake the master programmer: "When a program is being tested, it is too late to make design changes." -- Geoffrey James, "The Tao of Programming"