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The new Matt Damon movie, Promised Land, has top-notch actors, great dialogue, beautiful scenery and a plot twist.

I’m thrilled that Hollywood and celebrities have arrived on the fracking scene. I’m grateful that in the process, they’ve shined a light on the fracking skullduggery practiced by many companies. 

But know this: Promised Land is far from an exaggeration.  Rather, the movie merely scratches the surface—just barely—of the predatory mafia-esque tactics used by the fracking industry. 

They could make a whole new movie if they chose to include the full range of tactics that fracking companies employ, like threats, intimidation and military PSYOPS in our neighborhoods.  

How do I know? The frackers told me themselves.

On Halloween Day 2011, I attended a conference for oil and gas communications executives and recorded Matt Carmichael, Anardarko public affairs manager and former war contractor communications expert, recommending his peers use the military counter insurgency manual against American citizens. 


Not to be outdone, Range Resources’ communication executive, Matt Pitzarella, admitted using ex military PSYOPS operatives in our neighborhoods because “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 ”

And that’s just for starters. They also track us—stakeholders—and map our relationships:

“A number of people today have—in my words, how I’ve heard it—talked about having a battle with stakeholders, and a bit of a war with stakeholders. So, if you look at the people who are experts at it, which is the military, the one thing they do is gather intelligence.” ~Aaron Goldwater

They inoculate reporters, government officials and academics. This case study illustrates how industry squelches real science and they also manufacture science by aligning themselves with academics to create frackademics.

They lie to make people feel safe by comparing dangerous carcinogenic and endocrine disruptor chemicals to everyday products like bleach and Chapstick.

They use overblown promises of great riches and threats of lost wealth to divide communities and pit neighbor against neighbor.

They intimidate us with threats of job loss, physical harm and legal action.

The two days of taped presentations describe many of the methods industry uses to conquer our farmland and neighborhoods. What they never address is how industry intends to treat people fairly and do a better job. 

If fracking is so safe, why does it require mind games and aggressive intimidation tactics to shut people up?

Promised Land is a conversation starter.  But we are way past the need for a conversation. Impacted communities need action.

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