There’s Nothing Charitable About the Delaware Riverkeeper

delaware riverkeeper - Tom ShepstoneTom Shepstone
Natural Gas NOW


Donations to the Delaware Riverkeeper are currently tax-deductible on the theory it is a 501(c)3 charity but there’s nothing charitable about its Generations Project.

Last week I wrote about the role of the William Penn Foundation and its Clean Air Council, Delaware Riverkeeper and PennFuture stepchildren. I noted how the Haas family is using these entities to not only insert itself into Pennsylvania government at the highest levels but   also engage in political lobbying otherwise strictly limited by IRS rules. Private foundations are supposedly not allowed to do this, but the William Penn Foundation is getting away with in plain sight because it also has its tentacles deep into the major media in Pennsylvania. I had also previously noted how one of those entities, the carpetbagging Delaware Riverkeeper, was clearly acting outside its charter and not revealing the full extent of its lobbying activities to the IRS. It turns out there is more.

The Delaware Riverkeeper, like the other William Penn Foundation subsidiaries and the sugar-daddy organization itself, is a supposed “charity” under Section 501(c)3 of the IRS rules, mean it’s not only tax-exempt but donations to it are also tax-deductible. If it were to acknowledge it operates as a political group, that is to say a 501(c)4 organization, it would still be entitled to tax-exemption as a non-profit but donations to it would not be tax-deductible. The Riverkeeper says it does minimal political lobbying, but to anyone familiar with its activities, that claim is belied by virtually everything it does; from lobbying for anti-gas zoning far outside the Delaware River watershed to lobbying against fast-track trade legislation on the theory it will spur LNG exports and pipelines. Now, there’s even more evidence.

That evidence comes in the form of something called the “Generations Project,” which appears to a bit of an ego trip for Maya van Rossum, given the following brochure:

Delaware Riverkeeper

Delaware Riverkeeper Generations Project Brochure

Yes, you can have Maya come speak to you about she made a decision with “worldwide implications” happen. You can pay to have her come and brag about the Act 13 decision and its citation of the Pennsylvania Environmental Rights Amendments, also being pushed by the Haas family’s other stepchild, PennFuture. The importance of that citation, as it turns out, seems to have been greatly exaggerated, given more recent decisions such as this one.

It appears sanity has returned to the Pennsylvania courts now that Judge Castille did his bit of legacy building with the help of Pennsylvania’s trial lawyers (strange how the slip and fall ambulance chasers always show up in the background). But, the bigger point from my perspective is what this Generations Project involves, as described by the Delaware Riverkeeper:

  • to ensure that the Pennsylvania Environmental Rights Amendment is further strengthened in the wake of the PA Supreme Court Decision;
  • to pursue and secure constitutional protection of environmental rights in states across the nation;
  • to pursue and secure recognition of environmental rights at the federal level through constitutional amendment; and
  • to ensure governments at the local level, state level, and federal level honor the rights of all people to pure water, clean air and healthy environments in the laws they enact, the decisions they make, and the actions they pursue.

The same web page offers these tidbits as well (emphasis added):

If you would like to talk about how you can begin a movement in your state to secure meaningful constitutional environmental protections for present and future generations check out our resources on this page and reach out to the Delaware Riverkeeper Maya van Rossum (email at to talk about the situation in your state and how you can help make a change…

If you are an organization in Pennsylvania: We are at a critical stage now with this Supreme Court decision — it is important we are working together to advance advocacy and litigation that will strengthen the PA Supreme Court ruling and that will prevent the industry and the state from undermining it. Because future interpretations and applications of the PA Supreme Court decision Robinson Twp, Delaware Riverkeeper Network vs. Commonwealth will have statewide implications, including for the Delaware River watershed, and because the Delaware Riverkeeper Network played such a key role in securing this historic environmental win, we have created the Generations Project and are working with individuals and organizations throughout Pennsylvania to advance it through both advocacy and when appropriate through litigation.

As with all litigation where the Delaware Riverkeeper Network is a part and provides the legal resources, our organization will be a lead plaintiff in the case providing resources, experienced decision making, and a collaborative spirit…

If you are an organization outside Pennsylvania who would like to learn more about how to pursue and secure a successful Environmental Rights Amendment, to discuss legal strategy for advancing or replacing an existing constitutional provision, to be on the cutting edge of what we hope will be a growing nationwide movement to advance the cause of securing constitutional environmental rights for everyone in the nation and in so doing advancing the message that thesis a right for everyone in the world, then please contact Maya van Rossum, the Delaware Riverkeeper ( to joining the For the Generations movement.

Delaware Riverkeeper

Tracy and Maya

Aside from the way Maya is increasingly making everything about her, what about this Generations Project is not pure politics and an attempt to influence legislation?

The Delaware Riverkeeper is clearly a 501(c)4 political organization and not a charity. Donations to it should not be tax-deductible; that is to say subsidized by the rest of us.

If the Delaware Riverkeeper wants to do politics, it should, by all means, be permitted to do so, but it shouldn’t get an extra push by masquerading as a charity, especially when the biggest beneficiaries are the members of the very wealthy Haas family and Maya van Rossum’s ego.

Where is the Philadelphia Inquirer when you need it? Oh, that’s right, David Haas is on that board, too.


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6 thoughts on “There’s Nothing Charitable About the Delaware Riverkeeper


    It is astonishing to me that I recognize so many names from a hearing transcript dated Feb 2011 from a Deleware River Basin Commission meeting or the “organizations” those names represent. Too many were connected in some way, whether intervening or otherwise, in the rockaway pipeline docket or misinformation or revising the history of this project etc. I can also see some of the same names and groups represented in hearings and forums on the currently proposed Port Ambrose LNG import project. Some at this point are even considered experts on the Port Ambrose proposal which boggles the mind as it takes minimal research (say googling) to find out that they are not experts in the least but have actually been the source of a tremendous amount of misinformation on this proposed project.!documentDetail;D=USCG-2013-0363-2147

    I never expected to find that environmental groups whose names I recognize like the Sierra Club might not be passing on valid information to the public but doing the opposite.

  2. Tom, this has become a great place to find out where to go to get my next left-wing project funded! Why bother with research? Just read your blogs!

    • Happy to help, as I believe there is a measure of sanity in your presentation, however wrong-headed your positions and I like that.

  3. Pingback: Did PA Trial Lawyers Influence Act 13 Decision?Natural Gas Now

  4. Pingback: William Penn Foundation Lackeys Sued for DamagesNatural Gas Now

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