Much has been made of the recently announced Center for Sustainable Shale Development (CSSD), a Pittsburgh-based partnership between 11 fracking companies and non-profit groups. The CSSD bills itself as a Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) for the gas industry, putting forward a set of 15 standards for fracking and certifying drillers that voluntarily comply with those standards.
Though CSSD’s materials and the news media have touted the group’s independence in certifying drillers, CSSD appears to be less a guarantor of fracking’s sustainability than a “greenwashing” campaign controlled by the natural gas industry with the cooperation of a few philanthropies and environmentalist organizations with considerable ties to the natural gas industry.
The following are major findings from the report:
The major philanthropic force behind CSSD, The Heinz Endowments, has significant, undisclosed ties to the natural gas industry. The foundation has contributed more than $250,000 to CSSD, providing funding to every environmental group involved as well as to CSSD itself. Heinz Endowments president Robert F. Vagt is currently a director at Kinder Morgan, a natural gas pipeline company, and owns more than $1.2 million in company stock.
This is not disclosed on the Heinz Endowments website or the website of CSSD, where Vagt serves as a director. Kinder Morgan has cited increased regulation of fracking as a key business risk in recent corporate filings. A director of the Heinz Endowments, James E. Rohr, is also a board member at EQT Corp, which is playing a central role at CSSD (see below). This directorship is not disclosed on the Heinz Endowments website.