The William Penn Foundation and It’s Plan to Make A Playground for Elites

Tom Shepstone
Shepstone Management Company, Inc.


The William Penn Foundation is using money made in chemicals to buy virtue, together with a playground for elites; a playground where we are but quiet serfs.

There’s nothing elites despise more than the rabble. Oh, they sing a tune of noblesse oblige to be sure, but you won’t find them at War-Mart. They view us as deplorables to be managed and kept at a distance. They see the beauty of the places we call home—the places we have to make a living—and immediately gravitate to worrying about its future. Will it still be available as a playground for them? What can they do to protect it from us? How can they acquire it for themselves and gradually depopulate it? These are the never-to-be-uttered, but ever-present, worries of the elites who, under the pretense of virtue and facade of tax-exemption, aim to steal our land. Among them is the William Penn Foundation.

William Penn Foundation

The William Penn Foundation board room, where plans are hatched to grab our land as playground for elites and virtues are signaled

The William Penn Foundation, funder of the Delaware Povertykeeper, Clean Air Council, PennFuture, StateImpactPA, NRDC, Sierra Club, et al, is frequent subject of these pages. That’s because it so integrally involved in the politics of fractivism, despite being a supposedly non-political tax-exempt charity. It is one of the private foundations operated by the Haas family, heirs to a chemical fortune from the Rohm & Haas company built by their grandparents.

Rohm & Haas sold out to Dow Chemical in 2008 (other parts of the business having been sold to Dow in 2001). Former employe, Joe Sherlock, narrates the story in this article:

In 2008, Dow Chemical announced that they were buying Rohm & Haas. Dow paid $15.3 billion in cash for the specialty chemicals company. Dow said it would pay $78 for each R&H share – a big premium on the current price. Dow also absorbed $3.5 billion of Rohm & Haas’ debt. The deal [was] financed by a Kuwaiti Sovereign investment group and Berkshire Hathaway.

I guess R&H wasn’t doing all that well. Standard & Poors gave the company a “BBB” corporate credit rating, which is only two notches above junk status. In 2007, Rohm & Haas reported sales revenues of $8.9 billion.

The reason for the sale, according to chief executive Raj Gupta, was that the Haas family – owners of one-third of the company – wanted out. About 45 members of the extended Haas family had been told by financial advisers to diversify their assets. Or, perhaps, disembark from a sinking ship. The descendents have little interest in the business; most are artists and/or philanthropists.

That last line says it all. The Haas family (a/k/a the William Penn Foundation) was interested in the company. They already had the trust-funder disease and wanted to play, while holding onto as much of the legacy cash as they could. They also presumably wanted no part of other legacies associated with Rohm & Haas, which include this story from the Northwest Herald (Illinois):

Three former McCullom Lake next-door neighbors diagnosed with brain cancer within a short period of time sued the Philadelphia-based specialty chemicals manufacturer in 2006, prompting concern as more and more plaintiffs came forward.

Rohm and Haas – since 2009 a subsidiary of Midland, Michigan-based chemical giant Dow Chemical Co. – acknowledges that a plume of vinyl chloride and other volatile organic compounds have leaked into groundwater from years of dumping by the plant’s previous owners into an 8-acre unlined waste pit. However, the company vehemently denies that pollutants reached or sickened neighbors. Past and present owners of the plant have been working for the past two decades to clean up the contamination plume.

That case was settled in 2014. But there are others, including this one reported in the Houston Chronicle:

The Rohm & Haas chemical plant in Deer Park has agreed to pay a $485,000 civil penalty and purchase at least 300 acres of environmentally sensitive land in the Galveston Bay watershed to settle a lawsuit by the U.S. Justice Department.

The agreement, filed in federal court late last month, ends a process that began with the discovery in 1999 and 2000 of violations of the Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act, Justice Department spokeswoman Cynthia Magnuson said.

Environmental Protection Agency investigators found that the plant was dumping pollution in excess of its permits into the Houston Ship Channel, Tucker Bayou and the east fork of Patrick Bayou, according to a lawsuit against the company.
Rohm discharged pollutants into the water “on numerous occasions from at least May 1999 to the present,” the lawsuit alleged.

The pollutants included chlorine, nickel, cyanide, acid compounds and volatile compounds, according to the lawsuit…

“The Clean Water Act violations were the significant violations,” Magnuson said.

John Wilson, executive director of the Galveston-Houston Association for Smog Prevention, said he was concerned about the clean-air violations, however.

“What was going on at Rohm & Haas was simply indifference to running a good pollution program,” Wilson said.

Yes, this is how the Haas family fortune that is today the William Penn Foundation was made. That fortune allows David Haas to play publisher with the Philadelphia Inquirer while using that newspaper, StateImpactPA and NJ Spotlight as echo chambers to signal family virtues and further their efforts to make a playground for themselves in the areas where we have to make a living. The same fortune allows Thomas Haas to buy expensive airplanes and build an expensive home in New Hampshire. It also allows Leonard Haas to do whatever he’s doing in this “never gets old” picture while playing artist and living in elegant Rittenhouse Square:

William Penn Foundation

Today, Janet Haas, M.D. who is, by all accounts, a very accomplished individual, heads the family foundation. She’s also, apparently, a friend of Governor Tom Wolf and his wife, which is hardly a surprise. Among her claims on behalf of the William Penn Foundation is that it serves to “protect the Delaware River watershed.” That’s odd.

Among the other legacies of Rohm & Haas is the creation of “one of EPA Region III’s high priority Resource Conservation and Recovery Act (RCRA) corrective action sites,” described  on this EPA site (emphasis added):

The Rohm and Haas Company Bristol Plant (R and H Bristol) is an 880-acre chemical manufacturing facility which produces plastics, resins, and emulsion polymers. The plant is located in Bristol Township, Pennsylvania, and has been in operation since 1917. The plant is located in a mixed industrial, commercial, and residential area north of Philadelphia. The property is adjacent to the Delaware River. The plant uses municipal water supplied by AQUA Pennsylvania (formerly Philadelphia Suburban Water Company) from the Bristol Borough filtration plant for drinking and some process purposes…

The soil is contaminated with a variety of organic and inorganic chemicals, frequently localized in extent of contamination and details are given in the Human Exposures Environmental Indicator Document.

Institutional controls are in place for the Bristol Landfill in the form of a deed restriction. Both land and groundwater uses are restricted. Dow is preparing an Environmental Covenant for the landfill to further insure that the restrictions remain in place. The River Road North Parcel/Croydon Woods area has an environmental covenant restricting the uses to open space/passive recreation and preventing groundwater use.

And, here’s more from EPA regarding the Ammonium Sulfate Area portion of the Rohm & Haas site:

The groundwater is contaminated with a dense plume that has collected above the bedrock, and a defuse plume that has spread through the upper aquifers. The primary contaminants are ammonia, sulfate and acetone…

Here’e the map of the site where the family fortune that is the William Penn Foundation and Wyncote Foundation (money behind tribe Philadelphia Inquirer publishing house, StateImpactPA and NJ Spotlight today):

William Penn Foundation

The Rohm & Haas hazardous waste remediation site in Bristol, PA, a mere 0.85 mile from the gas-heated Delaware Povertykeeper (a/k/as Riverkeeper) offices.

It begins to becomes apparent what the Haas family (William Penn Foundation) is doing with the virtue signaling aspect of its grant program, providing cover for the environmental sins of earlier generations. It its buying silence to get that virtue by subsidizing the Delaware Povertykeeper, et al to save the Delaware, not from what the Haas family did but, rather, what we might do upstream.

But, that’s not the only thing the Haas family wants. They want our land, too, as a wilderness playground, which why they’re throwing so much money at the odious Open Space Institute, run by Rockefeller descendant Kim Elliman and other family representatives side by side with the Catskill Mountainkeeper and the NRDC, which is why I refer to them here as the NRDC gang.

How it all works is obvious from a series of sycophantic articles that appeared last week regarding $42 million the William Penn Foundation is donating toward the land grab through something called the Delaware River Watershed Initiative. Over a third of the money is going to the Open Space Institute, which has fine-tuned the process of doing land scams to create playgrounds for elites, leveraging money from groups such as the Foundation to rip off taxpayers for more. The fact Kim Elliman and the Haas family are now connected at the hip is no accident; Elliman also being the key guy at the Geraldine R. (for Rockefeller) Dodge Foundation which joins William Penn in funding the Povertykeeper.

The story is, of course, told with great self-serving admiration in the Philadelphia Inquirer whose very livelihood depends on the Haas family. The article even goes so far as to blame us the threat:

The Lehigh, Brandywine, and Schuylkill rivers, along with other major waterways including the underground Kirkwood-Cohansey aquifer in South Jersey, all feed a watershed that totals 13,500 square miles. It includes some of the region’s most stunning landscapes such as the Catskills, Poconos, Delaware Water Gap, and New Jersey Highlands and Pinelands. Its headwaters originate in southern New York and northeastern Pennsylvania.

About half the pollution in the watershed, also referred to as the Delaware River Basin, is due to runoff from building sprawl, agricultural pesticides, and the reduction of forests and wetlands that act as buffers or filters

“We are among the largest private foundations making grants for freshwater conservation in the country,” said Andrew Johnson, who manages the program for the foundation. “It’s significant as a philanthropic effort and highly complementary to work being done by states and the federal government under the Clean Water Act.”

The Delaware River Watershed Initiative works with various levels of government and is regarded as a national model, Johnson said.  Key, he said, is a scientific approach to gathering and sharing data used to identify restoration projects for acquisitions.  Prior to the initiative, nonprofits worked independently, without coordinated effort.

Now, the Academy of Natural Sciences of Drexel University leads the science. Other major partners include the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, the Open Space Institute, and the Institute for Conservation Leadership.

“This is an extraordinary opportunity to protect important forest land in the Delaware River Basin,” Peter Howell, an executive vice president with the Open Space Institute, said of the funding

Howell said land purchases and restoration projects are lined up in various locations.  As an example, he noted the just-completed purchase of 500 acres of headwaters of the Lehigh River.  The Wildlands Conservancy and Open Space Institute worked on the purchase with money from the William Penn Foundation.   He said other purchases are in the works and will include additional headwaters in the Poconos and near the Delaware Water Gap…

“Forests play an important role in keeping water clean,” Howell said.  “If you lose the forests at the top of the system, you lose everything downstream. We’re trying to keep them intact, so the water stays clean.”

“The changes we want to see in the watershed take years and decades,” Wall said. “So the willingness for the foundation to make this long-term commitment is really important.”

Get the picture? Take note who is now at the Academy of Natural Sciences; former DRBC Executive Director Carol Collier. She hopelessly conflicted that organization on the gas drilling issue by taking money from William Penn while it was also funding the Povertykeeper  simultaneously suing her agency. She was later rewarded with a Board seat that she apparently gave up when she took a cushy job at the Academy, which also owes its existence today to the Haas family. Collier was, while at DRBC, a great proponent of the falsehood that we we’re destroying forests and that gas drilling would destroy even more.

As we’ve noted many times here, forest cover in Wayne County has grown by over 44,000 acres since 1959 and gas drilling would effect but the tiniest portion of that. Our problem is that we’re being overtaken by forests, not that we’re removing them. Likewise, we have no building sprawl in Wayne County, nor do we have a problem with agricultural pesticides, We aren’t filling in wetlands, either; that’s against the law you know.

The whole argument, in other words, is one huge lie and it’s function is to excuse the land grab. That’s what this is all about. Gas drilling and the economic development and higher land values it would bring threaten what is a very profitable scam to acquire a playground for elites out of our property. This, combined with the virtue signaling benefits, is why the William Penn Foundation is putting out so much press through its house organs. Jon Hurdle, the StateImpactPA reporter sings their praises at NJ Spotlight and, surely, new can expect more from them and the Inquirer.

Don’t believe any of it, though. The excuses for action are completely contradicted by the facts. This about the land—our land—and they want it. Their 2016 Annual Report, in fact, tells us so:

While many things changed in 2016, one thing did not: clean water in the Delaware River watershed continues to be essential for ecological and human health and water-dependent businesses in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York and Delaware. Dramatic evidence of this is the fact that the watershed provides drinking water for more than 15 million people in those states, including half of the residents of New York City and all of the residents of Philadelphia, Camden, and Wilmington. Despite past successes in reducing pollution, there are persistent and growing threats to water quality – including loss of forests in headwaters, runoff from agricultural fields, polluted stormwater, and continued development of natural land.

They’re anti-timbering, anti-farm, anti-development and anti-us. They despise the rabble we are.


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5 thoughts on “The William Penn Foundation and It’s Plan to Make A Playground for Elites

  1. These vultures are all the same no matter what their last names are. I still can’t understand why this U.S. Senate report – has had zero effect on what is going on. Apparently the vultures do nothing illegal, but the ethics of it all is off the charts. A bunch of disgusting parasites living off of old money. Here in hellish NY, Cuomo is owned lock, stock, and barrel by the real estate moguls who keep him in office like a good little puppet when he banned drilling to keep land prices depressed. The worst part of all of this is the news media. I’ve had dozens of op – eds sent to the Binghamton Press and Sun Bulletin that never were published because they didn’t fit their narrative of being against gas drilling. Seems very plausible that all these billionaires not only own land, they also possess the media as well. Democracy…….rubbish.

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  4. The last time I looked a significantly sized wind farm (which only works when the wind blows and has to be shut down during extreme conditions) displaces a lot more forests and farmland since they need permanently installed roads to transport, erect and maintain these 250 to 400 ft tall towers that also decimate birds of prey and bat populations (some being protected species). With these natural predators being exterminated then additional pesticides and other control methods have to be introduced which will disrupt their little pieces of “Paradise”.

  5. Interesting article. It kind of makes you wonder though, the water is already at risk from the legacy of the Haas chemical company. If natural gas development is eventually allowed, we all know the gas industry will get the blame for that already existing pollution.

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