The Rotten Influence of New York’s Elites

New York's ElitesTom Shepstone
Shepstone Management Company, Inc.


There is a campaign against the middle class in New York, and especially their land ownership, a war under the rotten influence of New York’s elites.

I was thrilled last evening to read a message sent out by my friends and former associates at Energy In Depth regarding the scheduled testimony of EID’s Simon Lomax at a House Science Committee hearing this morning, where he will deliver a white paper articulating how the Health and Environmental Funders Network (HEFN) and the Sustainable Markets Foundation (SMF), entities funded by the Park Foundation and the Rockefeller family essentially conspired to construct the junk science pretext for their puppet, crime boss Governor Andrew Cuomo, to say no to fracking “at this time,” aided by an ambitious sycophant by the name of Howard Zucker.

New York's elites

Here, for those of you who didn’t receive the alert, is the message (also note the hearing can be watched on-line here):

Tomorrow morning, April 23 at 9:00am ET, Energy In Depth’s (EID) Simon Lomax will testify before the House Science Committee and unveil a new EID whitepaper, which details the massive influence of anti-fracking activists on the “science” behind the ban on fracking in New York. 

This whitepaper examines the 184-page “public health review,” prepared by Gov. Cuomo’s health commissioner to justify the ban, and finds strong evidence of political pressure from a well-funded, well-organized network of foundations and activist groups opposed to shale development in New York.

It details how the research papers praised by the Cuomo administration as “bona fide scientific literature” included reports that were financed and produced almost entirely by anti-fracking groups. Moreover, the same group of foundations funding the research also had strong financial ties to the media outlets that promoted the research and the “ban fracking” campaign groups that used the research to lobby the Cuomo administration. 

New York's elites simon-lomax

Simon Lomax

Simon Lomax is one of the best investigative reporters on the EID beat and he is well aware of the relationships we have outlined here at NaturalGasNOW and before that at EID. They all revolve around the role of the Park Foundation, the Rockefeller family and an individual I have referred to as the Fractivist Rasputin, a trial lawyer by the name of Jay Halfon, who is integrally involved with all of them and runs the SMF.

The alert from EID also includes a summary of the white paper:

On Dec. 17, 2014, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) announced a ban on so-called high-volume hydraulic fracturing activities in the state of New York. The unprecedented decision overturned two earlier findings from New York state environmental regulators that hydraulic fracturing technology could be applied safely and should be allowed to proceed under stringent regulation. 

The decision was at odds with broad agreement among scientists, engineers and regulators from state and federal environmental agencies that hydraulic fracturing has been conducted safely for decades – including, incidentally, in the state of New York. The “ban fracking” agenda endorsed by the Cuomo administration has also been rejected by leading national Democrats, including senior environmental officials in the Obama administration, as simply too extreme. So, how was Gov. Cuomo able to construct a justification for a decision that falls so far outside the mainstream?

This Energy In Depth whitepaper examines the 184-page “public health review,” prepared by Gov. Cuomo’s acting health commissioner to justify the ban, and finds strong evidence of political pressure from an organized and well-funded network of foundations and activist groups opposed to oil and gas development, and particularly shale development, in New York. Research papers praised by the Cuomo administration as “bona fide scientific literature” included reports that were financed and produced almost entirely by professional opposition groups. Moreover, the same group of foundations responsible for funding the research also had strong financial ties to several organizations that define themselves as media organizations which were used to promote the research, and the “ban fracking” campaign groups that, in turn, used the research to lobby and influence the Cuomo administration. 

In effect, the foundations were marshaled to create an echo chamber of research, media and campaign activities that drowned out the facts in New York’s debate over hydraulic fracturing and Marcellus development. In particular, this whitepaper spotlights the Health and Environmental Funders Network (HEFN) – led by the Park Foundation – and the Sustainable Markets Foundation (SMF) and six key research studies cited by the Cuomo administration to justify the shale ban:

  • Air Concentrations of Volatile Compounds Near Oil and Gas Production: a Community Based Exploratory Study (The Global Community Monitor Paper)
  • Toward a Better Understanding and Quantification of Methane Emissions from Shale Gas Development (The Ingraffea & Howarth Paper)
  • Environmental Public Health Dimensions of Shale and Tight Gas Development, by Shonkoff (The PSE Paper)
  • Gas Patch Roulette: How Shale Gas Development Risks Public Health in Pennsylvania (The Earthworks Paper)
  • Methane Contamination of Drinking Water Accompanying gas-well Drilling and Hydraulic Fracturing (The Nicholas School Paper I)
  • Increased Stray Gas Abundance in a Subset of Drinking Water Wells Near Marcellus Shale Gas Extraction (The Nicholas School Paper II)

The whitepaper highlights and examines the many substantive issues that undermine the factual basis upon which these research papers are founded, and then maps out from there how the findings of this research are packaged up, sent out to, and promoted aggressively by various media platforms that, in many cases, receive funding from the same sources that underwrite both the development of the original research, and the activist-led advocacy work that amplifies it subsequent to its release.  

At almost every turn, these research, media and campaign activities have financial ties to the HEFN and SMF.

For example, when acting New York health commissioner Howard Zucker held up a paper developed by a group called the Global Community Monitor (GCM) paper as an example of “bona fide” research, he failed to mention six of the study’s authors had ties to opposition groups. All three peer reviewers also failed to disclose their personal opposition to shale development, in violation of widely accepted codes of professional conduct. One of the reviewers, who later claimed she was unbiased, is literally the co-founder of New Yorkers Against Fracking. 

HEFN and SMF’s financial ties to the groups that produced the GCM paper exceed $3.7 million. Their ties to media outlets that promoted the GCM paper, including InsideClimate News, Grist and National Public Radio, exceed $2.2 million. This research and media coverage directly benefited campaign organizations that have received in excess of $16 million from the HEFN and SMF to build the political case for banning shale development in New York.

The first thing immediately noticeable about the fractivist campaign, once you dig into it in any depth, is how few people are really involved in a leadership role. It’s all the same handful of people operating under a multiplicity of group names intended to make it appear there is an uprising among the commoners, as if opposition were just popping up here, there and everywhere on its own, but the reality is far different.

New York's Elites

The second thing that quickly becomes apparent is the role of an even smaller number of New York’s elites who serve as the puppet-masters from behind the scenes. They fund every bit of the campaign and their names are Park and Rockefeller (with help from the Haas and Heinz families in Pennsylvania, and a couple of new money people such as the Schmidt and Simon families). They are at war with middle class landowners for possession of upstate New York and other areas where hydraulic fracturing holds the promise of economically rescuing the latter. Their’s is a rotten influence on the rotten politics of a corrupt state and the rot threatens to expand. Thank you to EID for helping to cut it out of the big apple.

Read Simon’s testimony here.

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12 thoughts on “The Rotten Influence of New York’s Elites

  1. The DRBC has been corrupted by some of the same groups mentioned above, most noticeably the Otto Hass Charitable Fund which gave the WM Penn foundation $797 million in 2009 which in term gave the Delaware Riverkeeper $1.1 millionin 2010.

    In the DRBC 2014 budget the WM Penn Foundation gave them $399,000 to buy a seat on 5 of 7 DRBC committees for the Riverkeeper, including a chairmanship to influence DRBC gas and oil policies. The Riverkeeper also sued the DRBC the same time they where on these committees, a clear conflict of interest which the DRBC did nothing about. There was also $180,000 contribution described in the DRBC budget as undisclosed source which brings up more questions then answers on how the DRBC is being run.

    All this was brought up at a recent meeting yet the DRBC did nothing about this glaring conflict of interest.

    Political special interest influencing is alive and well in the DRBC and its some of the same organizations that have corrupted NY. All for the sake of the elite and to the detriment of the hardworking upstate landowners!!

    When will true justice prevail?

  2. This article is so far from the truth .What makes you think it’s only elite’s that see HVHF as a threat to our areas.You stand corrected here!

    • The elitist got the ball rolling with misinformation, misleading people into thinking this was a just cause. The science of these elitist groups doesn’t hold up to true scientific scrutiny! The people like you who follow them are looking for a feel good cause and they realized this long ago! To them its about the money not the environment. The environment is the tool to further their financial goals. I thought everyone knew that guess I was wrong!

      • NO Fred I live in the middle of it for the last 5 yrs .All my comments come from my experiences here .This is why I have such a strong opinion against the process being used .Actual seeing damages caused to people and the local area.

        • Blah, blah, blah…Bill you never have anything to offer but baseless assertions like this. You’re not convincing anyone, my friend.


      Echo chamber. Interesting. It’s worth noting that once something is printed in the news or available online the next person to come along and “report”, perhaps not from any of the sources mentioned and from a balanced paper, might “echo” as well due to lack of preparation time, lack of knowledge and a follow the pack mentality. etc. Here for instance a reporter for CBS uses an inaccurate map for both an existing pipe and the project under construction and a source, Maureen Healy, a fractivist with the coalition against the rockaway pipeline, that is not credible in the least. So the basics of news reporting– the who, the what, the where, the when– in this case are pretty much missing. Here curbed picks up and echoes, also inaccurately–following an inaccurate piece in Al Jazeera. Let’s not even get into all that is wrong with the Al Jazeera story.. for starters the picture used is probably about 3 miles away and at an entirely different beach than where the actual project that was under construction at the time.

      Mind you– news “broke” on the rockaway project via NY1 two and half years earlier or rather to be precise, new broke that the bill this project required had just passed the House. (prior to public meetings on the project.) There had been petitions, lots of news coverage, however pathetic or inaccurate but the coverage got increasingly inaccurate over time. The earliest reporting at least got some details right.

      The Al Jazeera story and the CBS story occurred after the entire environmental review and while the project was under construction.

      Stay with me because it gets even better. Recently Democracy Now featured a news clip on a protest involving a current proposal, an LNG delivery project known as port ambrose. The “media maker” here provided the clip.

      That particular “media maker” was also featured in the Al Jazeera article on the rockaway project. That particular media maker also made this video

      which appears to have taken some time. However it is a video that talks about fracking and export about a proposed LNG delivery project.

      Here’s the thing– I think it is unlikely that Amy Goodman or the filmmaker know that where they got their information on the port ambrose from is faulty.

      Errrors can compound over time. I believe there is more to this story than people think. For ngo’s or activists organizations, I couldn’t say what their standards are. Some of the orgs listed in the white paper though self-identify as producing “news”.

      With this issue there is often no divide between what is news, what is an opinion, what is straight up a press release and what is an entirely fictional narrative.

      The grant receivers that are listed as news organizations– regardless of their funding, they should be able to “report” independent of their funders. All news organizations get money from somewhere as do all non-profits. The topic is quite serious. Citizens require access to accurate information if you are talking about their health, risks, energy supply etc.

    • Yes, Bill, it is more than the elitist enviro facists who are agains gas. It is also the useful idiots like yourself who have swallowed their lies, fearmongering, and hidden agenda hook line and sinker who think they’re against it. We do stand corrected. Thanks for prompting that point.

  3. Cuomo, and his phony shills don’t believe in their cause enough to stop using that dirty hydro fracked natural gas heat for themselves. A class action lawsuit is way over due.

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