NextBurgh, PA          @VannevarB      About      Pittsburgh Murals
August 11, 2013

PG: Heinz Eco-Endowments Going Fracking Sane

An article in Sunday's Post Gazette: Personnel shake-ups at Heinz Endowments seem to indicate shift on energy issues delivers a very biased presentation. The event that provides the notional hook is the Heinz Endowments have discharged their environmental director, and the communications director is leaving at the same time.

The story opens by introducing Jim Seif's credentials as a former secretary for the state Department of Environmental Protection, and also a former legal chief with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency while presenting Seif's criticism of the Heinz Foundation's dismissal of environmental director Caren Glotfelty.

Only much further down at the bottom of the article does the P-G indicate how Mr. Seif is currently engaged:

Mr. Seif, now an energy expert with Ridge Global, the consulting firm founded by former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge, urged the Heinz board and the Heinz family to show some more backbone, and not be "spooked by a couple of screwballs" within the environmental movement.

So Mr. Seif is not all the article presents him to be, within the "inverted pyramid" of priorities used in newspaper articles. But still, it must be a great injustice to have the environmental director terminated, right?

Ms. Glotfelty has experience in government and in working with business that rounds out her passion for green causes, according to colleagues in the Pennsylvania conservation community.

It was that background in part that led Ms. Glotfelty and her former boss Mr. Vagt, who spent 10 years in the oil and gas industry before becoming president of Davidson College, to spearhead the creation of the Center for Sustainable Shale Development.

Seeded with Heinz money, the coalition was announced in March and was brought together to create new standards for operators extracting natural gas and related liquids from the Marcellus Shale formation.

The sudden departure of the Endowments' longtime communications director Douglas Root, whose last day on Thursday was the same as Ms. Glotfelty's, has added to concerns among Pittsburgh's foundation community that other changes could follow.

But wait, there's more:

But in June, a report from the Public Accountability Initiative -- a tiny nonprofit environmental watchdog group -- suggested that The Heinz Endowments should have been more forthcoming about the fact that Mr. Vagt is still on the board of directors at Kinder Morgan, a natural gas pipeline company, where he was paid $136,016 last year and where he owns $1.2 million in stock.

Mr. Vagt and the Endowments declined to comment on the report when it was revealed.

Environmentalists have also said that the center's "standards" weren't all that ground-breaking, and in some cases were less strict than the existing state drilling standards. The coalition, according to the Public Accountability Initiative, represented a "greenwashing campaign controlled by the natural gas industry, with the cooperation of a few philanthropies."


So let's write another article about this story, shall we? More facts, fewer unattributed quotes, less agenda. Let's use only the materials provided in the PG article.

Heinz Endowments Eco-Director Dismissed after conflict of interest exposed

The Heinz Endowments have dismissed their environmental director, Caren Glotfelty, after a nonprofit environmental watchdog group uncovered that Glotfelty did not disclose the role that industry played in developed the Endowments' Center for Sustainable Shale Development. The CSSD was intended to address environmental aspects of the fracking industry.

While working for the Endowments, Glotfelty developed the Initiative along with Mr. Robert "Bobby" Vagt, president of the Endowments. Mr. Vagt is also on the board of directors at Kinder Morgan, a natural gas pipeline company, where he was paid $136,016 last year and where he owns $1.2 million in stock.

Mr. Vagt and the Endowments declined to comment on the watchdog group's report when it was revealed.

Jim Seif, an energy expert with Ridge Global, the consulting firm founded by former Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Ridge, urged the Heinz board and the Heinz family to show some more backbone, and not be "spooked by a couple of screwballs" within the environmental movement.

Environmentalists have also said that the center's "standards" weren't all that ground-breaking, and in some cases were less strict than the existing state drilling standards. The Endowment's CSSD, according to the Public Accountability Initiative, represented a "greenwashing campaign controlled by the natural gas industry, with the cooperation of a few philanthropies".

Industry lobbyist Seif had words of caution for the Heinz family: "All the stakeholders in the Pittsburgh, Marcellus and environmental [communities] will be watching carefully," he said. "If they lurch out of the center of the road, it will do harm to a lot of people, and spoil a wonderful family legacy for Pittsburgh."


I'm sure the Heinz family is really concerned about what Jim Seif is saying on behalf of the fracking industry.

1 comments:

Joe said...

I think "ground-breaking" is exactly the right word for relaxed standards on shale-gas development.

Post a Comment

Comments and Feedback? Love that stuff. Please leave your thoughts in the box below--