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UPDATED: Range Resources Says it has Military Psych Ops Specialists on Staff in PA

Spokesman Matt Pitzarella's comments came at an oil industry conference in Houston last week.

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.

CNBC.com reports that spokesman Matt Pitzarella’s comments were recorded by an environmental activist, who passed along audio files to the site.

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."

Tim Ruggiero November 10, 2011 at 01:43 PM
Damn you, Sharon Wilson and your sophisticated recording and editing equipment! How dare you take what Matt said, edit it, re-record it, have someone that sounds just like Matt and distribute it out to the press? How dare you take hours and hours of audio recordings, and edit them in such a way to make them appear unedited? You are a crafty, one Sharon. Maybe what Matt is really mad about is that in spite of the fact that there was an email sent out to conference participants, and notification at the conference itself that all presentations were going to be recorded-he missed a great of the conference because he had to go deal with yet ANOTHER spill and the fallout from that. Maybe he was simply too busy spinning that disaster to realize that the presentations were being recorded. I have an idea for you, Matt, that will put this issue to bed: Let's get the conference recording of your presentation and let's match it up to the one Sharon Wilson recorded, and then we can talk about 'editing and swapping'.
Liz Rosenbaum November 10, 2011 at 01:47 PM
Right on, Tim!
Amanda Gillooly November 10, 2011 at 02:54 PM
I will have a follow up today!
Alexander M. Cianfracco November 10, 2011 at 08:43 PM
Where is our friend "bigrigroberto"? Probably out hanging a "Mission Accomplished" banner on a drilling rig somewhere...
Eric Belcastro November 11, 2011 at 02:25 AM
http://www.desmogblog.com/gas-fracking-industry-using-military-psychological-warfare-tactics-and-personnel-u-s-communities
Sharon Wilson November 11, 2011 at 05:07 PM
The wording on your petition is excellent but, imo, the ask misses the mark. Pitzarella is only a messenger. The core values come from the top and until Range Resources and the industry as a whole is willing to be truly transparent and embrace regulation like other industry, the problem will only continue. Guys like Matt Pitzarella and James Cannon are a dime a dozen. Range will hire someone just like Pitz only cleverer. Personally, I would rather stick with someone like Pitz who will keep tripping on his ego.

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