The Environmental Integrity Project: A Dishonest Enterprise

NED Pipeline - Tom Shepstone ReportsTom Shepstone
Shepstone Management Company, Inc.


The planting of an Environmental Integrity Project story on the National Geographic blog illustrates what a dishonest enterprise the whole thing really is.

A recent story on the National Geographic blog descends into the depths of demagoguery  with an attack on natural gas development in Washington County, Pennsylvania. The text was provided by the Environmental Integrity Project. It uses anecdotal information to suggest natural gas development in the area of the Fort Cherry School District has caused benzene poisoning of a child. No causal information whatsoever is offered. The authors also bring in irrelevant references to matters in Texas in an effort to disparage the industry and lead the reader to conclude this must be what’s happening in the area.

It’s a classic disinformation initiative and has been thoroughly debunked by Energy In Depth. What interests me even more than the very positive facts themselves is how this story came to be. It is a textbook illustration of how fractivism works. It also demonstrates a complete lack of integrity on the part of the Environmental Integrity Project.

environmental integrity project website-eip-1

Environmental Integrity Project offices: Note plastic chairs.

The incessant moralizing on the part of groups such as the Environmental Integrity Project in the way they name themselves hides their true agendas and special interests. They conduct their operations in the same manner. Consider the fact their story was posted on November 16. That’s less than two weeks ago and a full five months after the publication of a study requested by the Fort Cherry School District to discern the potential impacts of natural gas development on students and other residents of the area. Yet, incredibly, the Environmental Integrity Project never even mentions it.

What possible excuse could the Environmental Integrity Project have for ignoring the study? Were they unaware of the study? That’s hard to believe and, if true, it demonstrates thorough incompetence. A Google search on “Fort Cherry fracking” brings it up promptly. Was it lack of access to the study? No, they could easily have accessed it here it for $39.95. Did they suppose the study wasn’t credible or worthy of mention? That’s also hard to believe given the credibility of Cardno ChemRisk, the very well respected scientific health and risk assessment firm that performed it.

No, none of these excuses or rationalizations make any sense in this case. The Environmental Integrity Project appears to have not mentioned a study directly contradicting their suppositions for one reason; it didn’t fit the desired template. This is how fractivism works. If this example is any indication, there is zero integrity at the Environmental Integrity Project. Here, in fact, are the findings of the Fort Cherry study with regard to Benzene levels:

fort cherry environmental integrity project

The recorded Benzene levels during fracking, flaring and post-flaring all were less than half the U.S. EPA Regional Screening Level (RLS) health protective limits. They were also less than both of two Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection baseline figures chosen because they were located outside of fracking areas. They were only slightly higher than the baseline in the Fort Cherry study. Benzene, in other words, was lower than normal, not higher. There was simply no basis in fact for any of the assertions made by Environmental Integrity Project in its National Geographic blog piece. It was all conjecture and demagoguery; basic fractivism.

We also have a pretty good idea of the purpose from the group’s management and its funding sources. The Park Foundation, for example, which fights fracking from natural gas heated offices in Ithaca, New York, gave it $40,000 this year (and the same amount last year) to “Work to apply pressure on federal and state agencies to better regulate the oil and gas industry and protect the public from the effects of toxic chemicals and greenhouse gas emissions.”

More importantly, though, the Energy Foundation gave it $400,000 last year (roughly a sixth of its budget). It did so “To promote education and analysis to advance clean, affordable energy that protects public health.” By that it means the renewable energy in which it’s largest funder, Nat Simons (the Sea Change Foundation) is heavily invested through his hedge funds.

The Energy Foundation and the Sea Change Foundation are inextricably intertwined and the latter is funded by Simons, who owns Elan Management LLC, described as follows:

Elan Management is an early stage venture investment group based in San Francisco, CA focused on the alternative energy and clean technology spaces. We invest in world class teams working across a wide range of technologies including solar, wind, water, energy efficiency, materials, transportation, energy storage and bio-fuel/chem. Our portfolio reflects our broad scope and our investments range in size from seed stage to expansion stage.

The Environmental Integrity Project, therefore, has a direct interest in tearing down natural gas and building up renewables. Ironically, the latter depend on the former for success but it is coming fast enough for investors such as Nat Simons, so they’re putting big money (including some dark money) into stepping up things by promoting fractivism. That’s what the Environmental Integrity Project is really about.

A quick check of the organization’s Board of Directors is also revealing. The President is John Dawes, Heinz Endowments man for all seasons. Dawes is Executive Director of the Foundation for Pennsylvania Watersheds. He is heavily involved in Penn Future, as well; another fractivist group funded by Heinz. The Heinz Endowments has given the Environmental Integrity Project $1,078,000 since 2008. Together with its Heinz sister group, the Clean Air Council, it is leading efforts to oppose air quality permits for the Shell cracker. Heinz, of course, funds multitudinous fractivist initiatives designed to frustrate natural gas development in Southwestern Pennsylvania and elsewhere.

Dawes, moreover, is just the beginning. There’s also Wesley Warren, the Treasurer, who is Director of Programs, Natural Resources Defense Council. Yes, the Environmental Integrity Project is connected with the NRDC gang. There’s also another direct connection in the person of Larry Shapiro, Associate Director of Program Development at the Rockefeller Family Fund. He joined them after directing the New York Public Interest Research Group’s (NYPIRG) environmental programs from 1988 through 1999. NYPIRG, of course, is the trial  lawyer rainmakers group Rockefeller associate Jay Halfon (now of the Park Foundation, Earthworks,, etc.) ran when he wasn’t leading the New York Trial Lawyers Association. A member of Bobby Kennedy Jr.’s law firm also serves on the board. Everyone is connected in the world of elitist fractivism.

Then, to top it off, we find this name on the Environmental Integrity Project Board of Directors: Al Armendariz, Senior Campaign Representative, Sierra Club. Remember Al?

Yes, there’s so little integrity to the Environmental Integrity Project they put “Crucify Them” Al Armendariz on their board. There’s little to add after that but I will mention that one of “Crucify Them” Al’s targets during his brief tenure at EPA was Range Resources, which also happens to be a target of this latest National Geographic blog hit piece. You don’t suppose there’s a connection, do you? Nah, couldn’t be…it’s the Environmental Integrity Project isn’t it?


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12 thoughts on “The Environmental Integrity Project: A Dishonest Enterprise

  1. In a US court room, the witness takes an oath to tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth – either in the sight of God or under secular penalty of perjury. (In other words subject to the wrath of God or to the wrath of the Rule of Law). Unfortunately, many fractivists do not believe in God; and district attorneys refuse to support the rule of law by prosecuting the fractivist liars.
    Intellectual honesty, which means applying the rules of logic with disciplined and peer-reviewed science, (while squashing the ‘heckler’s veto,) is not a word which exists in the fractivist vocabulary.
    Until fractivists embrace and practice, with rigor, the concept of intellectual honesty, we will never achieve a sustained and long term solution to our states’ and our nation’s energy needs.

  2. Said here by:

    vicfurman on November 17, 2016 at 8:06 am said:

    “Yesterday in Albany NY Governor Andrew Cuomo put out a do not travel order to 6 states stating that New Yorkers are not safe in these states because their gun laws do not live up to his expectations. Cuomo went on to say New Yorkers should just stay in NY. If you remember it was just a few months ago at summers end, Governor Cuomo announced tourism in NY was at its highest level ever recorded making the industry and NY millions. If I had the ears of these six states I would explain to them that Governor Cuomo does not represent the best interest of the people of NY but rather the interest of his liberal special interest ”


    Just never happened.

    First amendment; no law against lying.

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  4. The woman who the National Geographic story you posted is about also appears in this recent story in my local newspaper, The Observer Reporter, about it. In the National Geographic story she states that she lives in McDonald, Pa. which is in Mt. Pleasant Township, Washington County. It reports that is her daughter who was affected.

    Now in the Observer Reporter story it states that she lives in Ross Township which according to one of the commenters is 30 miles away. It also states that she is the kid’s grandmother and has custody of the girl. The commenters question why her kid is going to the Fort Cherry school if she doesn’t live in the township. I question her credibility based on that. One commenter stated that she is a well known fractivist. Seems like she is telling 2 completely different stories here.

    Read both of these reports and you’ll see what I mean.

    • The National Geographic blog piece by the Environmental Integrity Project was pure unadulterated propaganda, nothing more or less. It illustrates how little of what is said in some major media outlets bears any resemblance to the truth.

  5. The renowned Daniel Patrick Moynihan famously said, “You are entitled to your opinion. But you are not entitled to your own facts.” Tell that to Natural Gas Now. Readers should know that the goal of Natural Gas Now’s blog is to promote natural gas development, and that it is owned by the Shepstone Management Company, which lists the natural gas industry as a client. The author of the Nov. 27 opinion piece, Tom Shepstone, is a former spokesman for Energy in Depth, a fake news publication that is a paid mouthpiece for the oil and gas industry.

    The 2011 Fort Cherry School air quality study that Mr. Shepstone waves like a banner in his blog post is flawed. The 2011 study monitored emissions from the first well drilled and developed on a pad of eight. This is like conducting a study of second hand smoke with only one of eight smokers in the room actually smoking. The school campus is located approximately one half mile from the pad and prevailing winds blow emissions from that monitored well away from the school, not toward it. This and other concerns regarding the utility of the study are the reasons why the Fort Cherry School Board has approved additional air monitoring, which this time will be conducted by the Clean Air Council and the Southwest Pennsylvania Environmental Health Project.

    To use this study to promote an industry funded agenda of misinformation, and in the process malign nonprofit groups like the Environmental Integrity Project for shining a spotlight on the real concerns that real Americans face when confronted by fracking, is wrong. Why doesn’t Natural Gas Now’s blogger mention the fact that the school board has authorized additional monitoring? Cherry-picking facts to the point of real distortion is stating opinion guised as fact. This is becoming a dangerous trend in American discourse and bloggers like Tom Shepstone and blogs like Natural Gas Now need to be called out for who and what they are.

    In an effort to raise awareness and bring attention to the families and communities who inspire us daily, we embarked on a collaborative project with the International League of Conservation Photographers. The Environmental Integrity Project (EIP) recently – and proudly – released a photographic composition with personal accounts and stories of what it’s really like living near oil and gas operations. The project tells the stories, through photos and narratives, of what ordinary people are doing to reclaim their communities and their lives from the impacts of oil and gas operations. It’s ironic that industry cries foul when people rise up to tell their stories, which include their opinions and their experiences. And when they do come forward, industry-funded bloggers like Natural Gas Now try to invalidate their personal experiences through the use of blatant misinformation; in this case, using a flawed study to attempt to invalidate a child’s documented health problems.

    Natural Gas Now went so far as to even criticize the Environmental Integrity Project for receiving grants from foundations interested in protecting human health and the environment. Of course we accept and appreciate grants from such foundations; in fact, EIP publicly lists all sources of funding on our website. If Natural Gas Now believes so strongly that an organization should reveal its sources of funding every time a written document is produced, then Mr. Shepstone and its other bloggers should disclose exactly who pays their salaries.

    Mr. Shepstone doesn’t like EIP, and that’s fine. But he should at least use his industry funding to explore differences in viewpoints based on facts, not fiction and disinformation cloaked as fact in pursuit of marketing and profit. That’s shameful. Just as he tried (at the time on behalf of Energy in Depth) to smear EIP’s 2014 report, “Fracking Beyond the Law,” which was cited repeatedly in support of conclusions and recommendations made by the EPA Office of the Inspector General in its July 2015 report, and resulted in improvements to the veracity of FracFocus disclosures, Mr. Shepstone is now attacking families who are doing their best to protect their property, their livelihood, and their health.

    Regardless of Natural Gas Now’s heavy-handed tactics, fact-checking will prevail and that is what industry most fears: that the truth will be heard, not just their industry spin. EIP stands proudly behind its 14-year history and will always march onward in pursuit of compliance with state and federal environmental laws and most importantly, in support of the many communities and individuals with whom we work and hold in great respect.

    • I stand by my assertions, Mary. EIP is the phony organization here; not EID and not NaturalGasNow. We don’t pretend to be anything other than what we are, which includes being sponsored by a combination of landowners and industry representatives. You’re representing elitist foundations with special interest agendas. Moreover, the suggestion that the Clean Air Council and Southwest Pennsylvania Environmental Health Project are anything but sister shill organizations for the Haas, Heinz and Rockefeller families is an insult to every reader’s intelligence.

    • Mary says “The school campus is located approximately one half mile from the pad and prevailing winds blow emissions from that monitored well away from the school, not toward it.” If that is the case then it would make sense there is no air pollution at the school from the well like the study shows. If there is any pollution from the well it is blowing away from the school. Right ??

  6. National Geographic Magazine itself has become a shill for the Anthropogenic Global Warming (AGW) religion, and it makes me sick every time I see them incorporate this theme in their stories. Their stories have definitely become slanted, though the photography and graphics are still good.

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