In private email, Pa.’s Homeland Security cheif pledges “support” to gas drillers, warns against groups “fomenting dissent.”

September 9th

An email obtained by City Paper suggests collaboration between the state Department of Homeland Security and gas drilling interests.

The email, authored by Pennsylvania Homeland Security cheif James Powers, was written in apparent error: addressed to one Virginia Coady, a well-known participant in anti-drilling forums, the letter indicates that Powers mistakenly mistook Ms. Coady for someone associated with pro-drilling interests.

In the email (full text below), Powers warns Coady against distributing information gathered by the Pa. DHS on anti-drilling activities, telling Coady that: “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.”

The “support” he speaks of consists at least partly of confidential updates on anti-drilling activists and activties. A report yesterday evening by nonprofit investigative journalism outfit Pro Publica broke the news that the Pennsylvania Dept. of Homeland Security included in its regular newsletter, the Pennsylvania Intelligence Bulletin, decriptions of various activities and gatherings of activists opposed to gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale.

Included in a list entitled “Dates of interest” are a series of local meetings about gas drilling issues – a drilling ordinance in Cranberry County, a hearing in Damascus, Pa. on zoning regulations – as well as the recent screening in Philadelphia of the “controversial Gasland movie,” – a documentary by filmmaker Josh Fox on the dangers of hydraulic fracturing, the process used to extract natural gas from the Marcellus Shale.

City Paper emailed Mr. Powers to confirm authenticity of the email and was contacted instead by Governor Rendell’s chief spokesman Gary Tuma, who acknowledged that the email was authentic and said that the Pa. Dept. of Homeland Security was sharing such information with certain local interests – including gas drilling companies – because of “recent acts of vandalism” against drilling operations.

“There have been five acts of vandalism against Marcellus Shale drilling facilities,” in the last two weeks, he said, “including two of which involved firearms … shotguns fired at equipment.”

A third incident involved theft, he said after being asked for details, and the other two were “minor incidents.”

Tuma added that “There have been peaceful protests related to MS drilling by people who oppose drilling and the increased amoutn of driling – certainly no one is trying to restrict the rights of peaceful protest conducted within the parameters fo the first amendment.”

Asked whether there have been any protests that were not peaceful, Mr. Tuma acknowledged, “There have not been any that I’m aware of.”
[ email follows]
Miss Virginia,
For Your Information & Situational Awareness
Just a short note of clarification regarding the intent of the PIB. The information provided to you via
the PIB is not for dissemination in the public domain. As indicated in the caveats on the first page, the
PIB is solely meant for owners/operators & security personnel associated with our critical
infrastructure & key resources.
Although an internet forum is certainly a great way to spread the word and receive input from forum
participants, it’s still in the public domain and thus be accessed by both pro and anti-natural gas drilling
folks.
Please assist us in keeping the information provided in the PIB to those having a valid need-to-know; it
should only be disseminated via closed communications systems.
Thanks for your support. 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.
Jim

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