The Food & Water Watch Environmental Scam: Philadelphia

Food & Water Watch - Tom ShepstoneTom Shepstone
Shepstone Management Company, Inc.



Food & Water Watch is at it again with another of its environmental scams. this time in Philadelphia, to attract support for its anti-capitalist campaign.

Jim Willis, at Marcellus Drilling News, who is on top of everything shale the moment it happens, carried a report the yesterday on an article by Andrew Maykuth, the star (and fair) reporter at the Philadelphia Inquirer titled “33 groups urge City Council to reject energy hub.” It discussed a letter sent to Philadelphia City Council by Food & Water Watch and signed by 32 other groups urging those officials to “pass resolutions against efforts to build industries linked to the expanding Marcellus Shale natural gas development.” They don’t want Philadelphia to become the next Houston.

This is another one of Food & Water Watch’s environmental scams intended to generate support for what is a very profitable anti-capitalist campaign and it, in fact, has the support of the William Penn Foundation’s well fed step-children.

Philadelphia has enormous potential. Some folks, for ideological reasons, don’t want to see that potential realized and that’s what prompted the recent letter to Philadelphia City Council. When I read Andrew Maykuth’s article, I e-mailed him to ask for a copy of the actual letter and he kindly provided a link to it. The text reads as follows:

Dear Members of Philadelphia City Council:

Philadelphia’s biggest polluters are pushing for a massive build out of oil and gas infrastructure in and around our city. Such a plan would pose public safety risks on several fronts, deteriorate our community’s public health, and elbow out plans to build our community and economy in a safe and sustainable way.

Fortunately, Philadelphians can have a say in the future of our city through our elected representatives on Philadelphia City Council. In order to protect Philadelphia’s health, economy, and environment, City Council must:

  • Protect Philadelphia from explosive oil trains. Every day, 160,000+ barrels of explosive Bakken crude oil are shipped by rail, threatening the safety of our communities. This highly volatile oil is being transported in substandard tank cars that have proven to be extremely susceptible to puncture in the event of a derailment. Council can act by supporting a resolution to ban DOT 111 tank cars and increase emergency response outreach.
  • Reject the plan to build pipeline through Philadelphia to bring in gas from Northeastern Pennsylvania. A major gas pipeline would endanger communities in and around Philadelphia, and could be a costly stranded asset for Philadelphia Gas Works (PGW) and the city if gas production dries up. Council’s own advisor, Concentric Energy Advisors, has already said PGW’s current gas supply “has served [PGW] and its sales customers well.”
  • Reject the plan to expand Liquefied Natural Gas (LNG) storage and transport at the PGW facilities. There are no good options to transport this explosive substance out of Philadelphia. Whether by truck, rail, or barge, this explosive substance should not be transported through our communities.

Push for energy efficiency and conservation for residents and businesses, and encourage the development of the region’s renewable energy industries.

Members of Philadelphia City Council should act immediately to pass resolutions and/or ordinances affirming each of these points. Failure to do so will allow an industry that is harming our city now to despoil our city’s future, as well.

The below organizations have endorsed this letter:

The letter then goes on to list the 33 “organizations” who signed onto it. The farcical nature  of the letter (it opposes any method of bringing oil and gas to Philadelphia, where 84% of homes are heated with oil and gas, not including those on electric heat made with oil and gas), is only exceeded by the ludicrous nature of the list of signers.

The first thing that jumps out is the stretching of the numbers. Included among the 33 “organizations” are three private businesses and a trial lawyer. There’s also a guy from West Virginia who goes by the pen name of Biogas Bob. He now lives in Glenside, Pa. and operates something called Omega-Alpha Recycling Systems, which he says intends to help us make “the great transition from the profligate fossil fuel age.” Yes, Bob…of course.

Food & Water Watch

Bio-Gas Bob’s home in West Virginia (“former homebase”)

Those businesses also include “Beautiful Business” author and trendy White Dog Cafe (cheesesteaks for $16) founder Judy Wicks, a solar company from Yardley and a bicycle shop. The owner of the shop also represents the Mt. Airy Greening Network (a “core group of 5-10 people” focused on climate issues) who listed herself twice as a signer. The word “organizations” is loosely applied it seems.

That isn’t all that’s loose-goosey about this list, though. Consider some of the other signers. There’s Deep Green Philly, for example, which is a self-described radical anti-corporate group that proudly promotes “radical ecology” and events sponsored by the NYC Anarchist Black Cross and similar activities.

Then, there is Transition Philadelphia, an “urban farming” group that focuses on “creating community resilience in the face of peak oil, climate change & economic hardship.” The peak oil movement, of course, struggles against the fact our oil and gas reserves keep increasing, but these folks are undeterred and want to turn the Philadelphia Gas Works into the Philadelphia Green Works. Yeah, that’ll work.

There are numerous other fringe groups on the list, including, for example, the Womens’ International League for Peace and Freedom, the Maypop Collective for Climate and Economic Justice (spoiled rich kids advocating fossil fuel divestment on behalf of the poor) and the Sisters of St. Joseph Earth Center which says it fosters “opportunities to reflect, practice and celebrate the truth that all is sacred” (whether that includes God or not is unclear). Most of the list consists of trendy, anti-industry, divestment type groups – entities such as Elder Activists which says it’s “here to make the world suck less” and “wishes it was still the 1950’s.” One wonders if that includes life without smart phones, the polio vaccine and the smog that plagued our cities then.

Food & Water Watch - an energy-hub-protest_1200x675-636x310

Philadelphia Energy Hub Protest – Notice “Community Not Commodity” sign, as if any community could live without commodities

It wasn’t the fringe groups that were most troubling, though. It was the supposedly mainstream groups who make the news, including the Clean Air Council, the Delaware Riverkeeper, the Sierra Club and the Clean Water Action/Fund. These are all stepchildren of the William Penn Foundation, which has an anti-fracking agenda it pays these four organizations (and numerous others) to implement. A search of grants made by the William Penn Foundation (where, in an astounding display of ethical obtuseness, Carol Collier went to serve as a Director after letting the foundation twist her and the DRBC into knots) reveals it has since 2012 invested $3,792,500 in these four entities ($1,494,000 with the Delaware Riverkeeper alone).

These four groups do the dirty work of the William Penn Foundation which, as a private foundation, is itself severely restricted from engaging in lobbying and politics, although it has a history of taking things to the edge, if not beyond. In this case they collaborated with one of the most radical of prominent activist groups – Food & Water Watch, which now has a considerable history of profitably hustling money out of others for the purpose of attacking capitalism and growing itself rich.

profiled the group last year, noting how it had, over its then eight years of existence in the records of the IRS, earned an average of $764,766 per year as a “non-profit” corporation by secretly raising the bulk of its monies using donor-advised funds. Since then its 2013 financials have become available and, while it lost money for the first time, it still managed to grow salaries by almost $670,000 as it upped its haul by nearly $1.3 million, spending over $1.5 million in direct mail solicitations and the like to do so.

Food & Water Watch

Wenonah Hauter – Radical founder of Food & Water Watch

Food & Water Watch is a huge radical machine and it’s no coincidence that it’s modeled much like ACORN, the con-artist creation of socialist Wade Rathke that was brought down by James O’Keefe. It was then be reconsituted in some locales by refugees from the discredited and disbanded organization who formed new entities such as Action United, which, of course, also signed the letter to Philadelphia City Council.

The letter, as it turns out, has absolutely no connection to anyone who gives a damn about Philadelphia’s economy. Every one of these groups is organized around some radical or special interest cause that has much less to do with Philadelphia or its economy than fighting capitalism, stopping fracking or advocating for some other ideological perspective. Their arguments are transparently silly in a city where oil and gas provides the energy needed by more than 9 out of 10 homes and virtually all business, a city with the opportunity to become the next Houston and revive the economic fortunes of every Philadelphian and the cradle of liberty. They are all frauds and the William Penn Foundation, the name of which doesn’t even appear on the list, is the biggest fraud of all. It’s one big environmental scam.

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