How the Funders of the Delaware Riverkeeper Live

SolarCity - Tom Shepstone ReportsTom Shepstone
Shepstone Management Company, Inc.


The Delaware Riverkeeper, a shameless opponent of any economic development of the Upper Delaware region, is funded by rich elitists who want it for playtime.

No group has done more to fight against the interests of those trying to make a living in the Upper Delaware region than the Delaware Riverkeeper. It is primarily enabled by the William Penn Foundation, a private foundation created and tightly controlled by the Haas family, heirs of a fortune made in chemicals, who spend enormous sums on fractivist initiatives.

We’ve written about them numerous times, of course, and pointed out how the Delaware Riverkeeper, the Foundation and the Delaware River Basin Commission, along with other shill organizations, have effectively colluded to deny the Upper Delaware region any hope for real economic progress related to gas drilling, even as neighboring areas enjoy the benefits. The Foundation, though, is where the money comes from and we’ve spent too little time laying out exactly who the Haas family is and how they live while financing the demise of our economy.

The William Penn Foundation funds the Delaware Riverkeeper a/k/a Povertykeeper for 24 months at a time. Here are the two most recent grants, made in 2015 and 2017:

Delaware Riverkeeper


Delaware Riverkeeper


There two things to notice here. The first is the euphemistic bovine excrement used to describe the purpose of the grants, which is pure grassroots lobbying by another name, something this private foundation is not supposed to be doing. Secondly, take note of the big increase in funding this year, up $451,000 or 49% since 2015. The Haas family is giving Maya van Rossum $682,500 per year to fight against our economic interests and they’re obviously very happy and proud of what’s she’s doing. They’re not offended by the dirty tricks, the stunts, the antics or any of it. They love it and love the fact she’s kept gas drilling at bay this long. Of course, the money they’ve given the DRBC hasn’t hurt either.

Meanwhile, Wayne County, where I live is stagnating and losing population, according to the Census. Agriculture is dying, construction has never recovered from the recession that began a decade ago, school enrollments continue to drop and opportunity has largely vanished. There is no way to keep the kids here because there’s no way to make a decent living unless you’re making it elsewhere.

The Delaware Riverkeeper organization, of course, is paid not to care about such things. But, what about the Haas family members who constitute the William Penn Foundation? Why is it they don’t care? Well, that’s easy; it’s because they live in an entirely different world where making a living is gauche.

There are six members of the corporation that is the William Penn Foundation:

  • Thomas W. Haas, Chair
  • Christina Haas
  • David Haas
  • Janet Haas
  • Leonard C. Haas
  • Katherine Hanrahan

David Haas is someone we’ve profiled before, here and here.

Delaware Riverkeeper

David Haas

He finances the Philadelphia Inquirer through another foundation he controls while the William Penn Foundation finances StateImpactPA and NJ Spotlight, even as these news organizations report on the activities the Foundation funds through the Delaware Riverkeeper, DRBC, Clean Air Council, PennFuture, et al. Meanwhile, he resides in a ritzy part of Philadelphia where the homes sell for $1 million or so:

Delaware Riverkeeper

David Haas home in swanky part of Philadelphia

Then, there is Thomas Willaman Haas, the current chairman of the board:

Delaware Riverkeeper

Thomas Haas

Here’s how one of the beneficiaries of his philanthropy describe him:

Tom Haas has a penchant for flying, and for making a difference. On occasion, he is able to align the two perfectly. And that, the Durham philanthropist says, makes for a great day

…. he has removed the seats from his Pilatus PC-12 plane to make room for crates of Mexican gray wolves or endangered sea turtles or falcon chicks, flying them to safer grounds as a volunteer with LightHawk, a group that relocates endangered or injured wildlife.

Haas became a pilot with a nod from his father, who told him to follow his heart. He got into philanthropy the same way. “I’ve been gifted in my life, through my grandparents and my parents. I grew up with philanthropy,” Haas says. He continues that legacy through his own foundation and fund, and through the William Penn Foundation in Philadelphia, founded by his paternal grandparents; Otto Haas founded Rohm & Haas, an international producer of specialty materials…

“I’m a very lucky guy, I really am,” Haas says. “The bottom line for me is, I want to get out and do some good.”

Well, that’s nice and, by all accounts, Tom Haas is, in fact, a very nice guy who funds a lot of wonderful things (which you can do when your career is being a philanthropist), but he also funds the Delaware Riverkeeper, a nasty operation, if there ever was one, that is as mean-spirited as he is nice; an organization that has stolen the economic future of my county and its neighbors for the sake of making a wilderness to be enjoyed by folks like Haas. Here’s how he lives on the bay in Durham, New Hampshire in a home Zillow estimates at $1.7 million in value:

Delaware Riverkeeper

Home of Thomas Willaman Haas in Durham, NH

And, here is Leonard C. Haas, a third member of the corporation doing all it can to deny gas drilling to our area by funding the Delaware Riverkeeper and its axis of disruption:

Delaware Riverkeeper

One of Leonard Haas’s Facebook profile pictures

Leonard Haas is an artist. Who’d have suspected? He lives in the most expensive part of the Philadelphia on Rittenhouse Square in this building:

Delaware Riverkeeper

The high-end digs of Leonard Haas on Rittenhouse Square in Philadelphia

Here’s the lobby:

Delaware Riverkeeper

Lobby of building where Leonard C. Haas lives

Apartments in this place, unsurprisingly, sell for roughly $2.5 million. It’s a long way from Damascus, Pennsylvania, where I grew up, by any measure. It also has natural gas heat. Nonetheless, Leonard and the other members of the Haas family who comprise the William Penn Foundation are more than happy to use the Delaware Riverkeeper in a vain effort to control our destiny by preventing any natural gas development.

They’ve been throwing money at the Povertykeeper and its gang of de-growthers to do so for years now, while also funding the DRBC, the press that reports on all of it and even PennFuture, the group from so many of our Pennsylvania government officials seem to be coming lately. They are the money and the force, the “haves” behind the effort to keep gas drilling out of the Upper Delaware region and to stop all pipeline development everywhere they can.

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12 thoughts on “How the Funders of the Delaware Riverkeeper Live

  1. Thomas Haas has a $1,700,000.00 New Hampshire mansion in the coastal university town of Durham…how nice. His private aircraft, a Swiss made Pilatus P12 turboprop, is worth nearly 3 times the value of his estate. The base price of a P12 was $4,888,275.00 in 2016 ( Like the author Tom, I live in Wayne County, PA, too…I have a nice home and just under 40 acres of property. Nevertheless, my “mansion and estate” will come in a bit south of Tom Haas’ $1.7 Million price tag. I’m also a pilot…..alternately taking the controls of either my 2005 Honda Element or my 2005 Harley Davidson Fatboy. Yeah….Mr. Haas, at nearly a $5 Million base price has me by a few bucks in the transportation field as well. But instead of contemplating upgrading my transport fleet beyond a 12 year old stable, I just paid my real estate taxes….and now I’ll begin scrimping and saving to pay my draconian real estate based school taxes due this fall……taxes I pay annually on property the Haas family and their minions actively prohibit me from utilizing in a similarly responsible manner as my ancestors had for 150 years.
    You would think Tom Haas and his uber wealthy family would gaze beyond the silver spoons dangling from their self entitled pie holes and love to see folks in the Upper Delaware Basin, including Wayne County, prosper on their own land with the resources they and their families have conserved, nurtured, responsibly developed and cultivated for decades, for centuries in many cases. Those same land owners, after all, are among the many tax payers subsidizing the nefarious and illegal lobbying of the Haas family’s William Penn Foundation…..a non-profit concern mandated by IRS statutes to avoid lobbying and political activity.
    I’m really thrilled Tom Haas is a great guy…I’ll bet he’s a barrel of laughs at the joystick of his Pilatus….the wolves and falcons, sipping white wine and munching artisanal cheeses, while flying in First Class seats on his five million $$$$$ private plane think Tommy is the straw that stirs the drink. Me, on the other hand, if and when I fly, I’ll attempt to cram my 6’3″, 225 lb. frame into a coach seat and feast on a bag of peanuts and bottled water……oh, to be a falcon. It’s way past time Tom Haas, his family, their foundation, their ilk, and all of the vile, unaccountable entities they bankroll…Delaware Riverkeeper and DRBC included…were exposed as the corrupt, tangled web of money laundering, land grabbing whores they truly are. The sad reality we in the Upper Delaware and Wayne County, PA must face is that the Haas family, their foundation, minions and assorted sycophants have used our own tax dollars against us in their pathetically corrupt and evil exercise of denying we land owners and tax payers our due process as elaborated and guaranteed in the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution (
    So, to my fellow residents, friends and taxpayers in Wayne County, PA and the Upper Delaware, if I may quote the “Sage of Baltimore”, H.L. Mencken…..”Every normal man must be tempted, at times, to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin slitting throats.”
    I’m in…..Who’s with me…???

  2. Look up this site offering dairy farm subsidies
    for Bradford County, Pa.
    notice up to 908 dairy farms asked for and qualified
    for subsidies…

    learn more about subsidies….and still many getting
    subsidies despite the supposed “windfall” of gas money.

    and read this articles about landowners complaining about being ripped off by the gas company royalty program:
    hundreds of landowners complaining :
    another lawsuit against a gas company other than Chesapeake…

    • Vera
      Is it not just a wonderful thing that people other then those to lazy to work for a living can now get government assistance or grants as you call them for their efforts on farming? Could you imagine if welfare recipients had to fill out grant applications showing a path to getting off welfare that was actually reviewed and graded by a loss of those benifits should they live up to their own terms.
      Could you conceive the success we would find as a nation if instead of fighting against one another, we worked with each other to conquer the issues we value. When we address ourselves as winners or losers no matter the battle then their will always be losers! Should we become partners with all goals achievable then we would always rejoice as winners!. A democrat I think you may relate to as I once did said “Ask not what your goverment can supply you with, rather but ask’ what you can do to make your country work” at least thats the way I heard it.

          • sorry, Karen, not helpful…
            calling us liars is not a good start
            to come together and see what we can discuss and do together….
            in understanding each other better
            and where we are coming from
            and see each other without the bias of demonizing the other….

        • Absolutely…
          start by dropping opinions
          Use scientific data free of non partisan funding
          Discontinue public comments in favor of expert testimoni backed with facts
          Peacefull non violent demonstrations
          Ban hollywood activisim policy should not be based on popularity.
          Forbid funding of activisim by billionare interest and ensure equal funding for educational activisim via media
          The list goes on and on Vera, to say a group is grass roots when there being suported by heinz, park, kennedy or whomever should not be allowed legally as it is disingenuous

  3. The Rivercreepers have also interfered with gas drilling here in western Pa. far away from the Delaware River. Kiskadden’s attorney, John Smith, is also involved with them. There was a video out of him talking at some meeting they had. I wonder if the Creepers are paying Kiskadden’s legal fees to Smith as he continues to lose that case in court. I doubt if Kiskadden has the money to pay them.


    It’s totally unsurprising at this point that a small group of people are wielding tremendous influence with this issue. This has been the case for years right? How many people is rethinkenergynj and what other ngos do its members or leaders belong to?

    What is Sandra stengraber up to these days? Where is she hocking her misinformation? California? Or bill mckibben? Or josh fox? Or wenonah hauter?

    It is staggering that the press is uninterested in telling the real story of this movement. The subject is so important.

  5. Pingback: The William Penn Foundation and It's Plan to Make A Playground for ElitesNatural Gas Now

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