Park Foundation Admits Anti-Fracking Advocacy

Kind of interesting that the anti-drilling Park Foundation has outted itself as one of the major funding sources of anti-fracking movement. An article in the Sunday Binghamton Press & Sun-Bulletin (and run in other Gannett newspapers) chronicles that the Park Foundation, a foundation started by Roy Park, media mogul, has funneled more than $3 million to anti-drilling groups since 2009. Energy in Depth has long exposed the Park Foundation, headquartered in Ithaca, NY as a major source of funding for anti-drilling groups. Apparently the mainstream media can no longer ignore this 800 pound gorilla in the room, and so has spun a story about how wonderful it is that the tiny Park Foundation is doing this bit of community work as an antidote to the evil, nasty behemoth drilling industry. Nice try MSM.

The Park Foundation, according to the article, helped fund Gasland, the so-called documentary by Josh Fox, to the tune of $175,000. The Community Environmental Defense Council, a husband and wife who are both lawyers (David and Helen Slottje) have received $117,750 which enables them to travel around New York making mischief at local town board meetings. And $300,000 has gone to Environmental Advocates of New York “for various anti-hydrofracking campaigns.”

The Park Foundation is funding a veritable “Who’s Who” in the anti-fracking movement:

Food and Water Watch, the Natural Resources Defense Council, Catskill Mountainkeeper, Earthworks, Earthjustice and Citizens Campaign for the Environment — all groups that have pushed for permanent or temporary hydrofracking bans in New York — have split a total of $758,000.*

They also fund “research” studies with science slanted against gas drilling:

On the research side, about $208,000 has gone to Cornell University studies that cast doubt on the economic and climate-related benefits of gas drilling. Last year, $50,000 went to a Duke University researcher who released a study on methane migration near gas wells. Common Cause has received $175,000 to fund a series of reports detailing the industry’s spending on lobbying.*

What’s going on here? As one MDN reader wrote in an email, have we fallen through the Looking Glass? The Park Foundation is admitting their complicity (after hiding for so long)?!

What’s going on is that they are just becoming more brazen—they no longer feel the need to hide:

The strategy, according to Park Foundation executive director Jon Jensen, was initially based on increasing awareness and producing research on hydrofracking in the time before it became part of the Southern Tier’s collective lexicon. But that strategy quickly shifted from awareness to advocacy, Jensen said.

"Over time, we began supporting advocacy-type efforts around fracking across a mix of strategies," Jensen said. "Some of our grantees work on bans, some work on moratoria and delays so we can slow it down and make sure we get it right, and some work on regulations."*

The conclusion to the article attempts to portray the Park Foundation with its assets of $300+ million (that’s more than a quarter of a BILLION dollars) as some small altruistic organization crusading against the gigantic oil and gas industry. The reporter says that the Park Foundation has no ulterior motive, they don’t stand to “profit” from their activity, as the O&G industry does. It may not be obvious how the Park Foundation profits from its activities, but you can bet your last drop of oil and BTU of natural gas that they do.

*Binghamton (NY) Press & Sun-Bulletin (Apr 15, 2012) – Power brokers: How the Ithaca-based Park Foundation is fueling the fight against fracking