State to pay $40K to anti-drilling group over terror listing



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WILKES-BARRE, Pa. (AP) — The state of Pennsylvania agreed to pay about $40,000 to an anti-gas drilling group that was erroneously characterized in security bulletins as a potential terror threat.

The settlement terms between the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency and the Gas Drilling Awareness Coalition were released Friday. The Associated Press obtained the document through an open-records request.

The gas drilling coalition's lawsuit said the bulletins characterized the group as a possible threat to infrastructure without evidence. A private contractor, the Institute of Terrorism Research and Response, produced the reports under a one-year, $103,000 contract.

Then-Gov. Ed Rendell later apologized for the monitoring of peaceful citizens' groups, and his homeland security director resigned. The institute's contract was not renewed.

The state did not admit liability under the Jan. 15 settlement, but it agreed to destroy all copies of the so-called Pennsylvania Intelligence Bulletins. The watchdog group agreed it wouldn't make disparaging remarks about the state agency or its officials.

The security bulletins were issued several times a week and sent to hundreds of people, most of them in law enforcement and private industry. State police have said the bulletins included information taken out of context, some of the analysis was biased and their internal analysis concluded there was no threat to public safety.

The director of the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency cleared the coalition of wrongdoing in a letter dated Dec. 18 and released by the group's lawyer this week.

The company and its co-director, Mike Perelman, were earlier dismissed as defendants in the coalition's lawsuit, but coalition attorney Paul Rossi has said he is appealing.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Michael Rubinkam

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