Editor's Note: This story was updated at 2:43 p.m. to include a statement from Range Resources.
At an oil industry conference in Houston, Texas, last week a Range Resources spokesmen told attendees that the company has employed military psychological operations specialists on its staff in Pennsylvania.
During a session about fracking Matt Pitzarella spoke about “overcoming stakeholder concerns” about the 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,” CNBC reported 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.”
Another of the company’s spokesmen, James Cannon, is a former military veteran who served overseas, he has said on the Canon-McMillan Patch.
Reached Wednesday, Pitzarella gave the following statement:
"This is a result of an activist sneaking a recording of a 16-hour conference, editing it, and releasing a one minute sound bite. My remarks were in response to a comment on how to prepare scientists and other technical experts to answer emotional questions, particularly in other parts of the country.
"We believe we need to be transparent, accessible and accountable and in order to do that you need employees who are comfortable engaging various stakeholders. Since not every company can go out and hire customer service representatives or communications professionals or maybe it’s not an everyday need, so companies should seek out natural communicators internally. We hire a lot of veterans and service men and women and they are natural leaders, work well in teams, are comfortable with all sorts of people, and are strong communicators. One of our employees who works on adhering to and assisting in crafting local regulations with communities has worked in psy ops. The comment was demonstrating that this person can remain calm, particularly in emotional and even dangerous situations in the Middle East and therefore can handle about any situation in the community. As you know, some township meetings have the potential to become pretty emotional. So seek out people internally who are capable of working with diverse stakeholders.
"Editing and swapping my response with an unrelated comment from someone else isn't really honest. And while we’d rather be discussing the importance of natural gas in our energy future, this issue provides us a platform to further communicate our commitment to being transparent, accountable and accessible. We don’t get to talk about the positives, until we address concerns."