FracTracker Alliance is a left-of-center, anti-natural-gas-development organization that maps, studies, and communicates the alleged negative effects of oil and gas development. It also supports groups across the United States and provides data, maps, tools, and analysis articles about fracking in an effort to oppose the natural gas collection practice. It was originally established as a project to investigate data gaps and health concerns surrounding fracking in western Pennsylvania. 1
FracTracker Alliance publishes articles on how activities involving oil and gas development impact legislation, climate change, air pollution, economics, petrochemicals, wildlife, and ecology. 2 Fractracker Alliance published an article entitled “Documenting Emissions From New Oil and Gas Wells in California,” which claimed that various oil and gas wells caused pollution and negatively the surrounding envrionemnt. 3 The Alliance also published an article entitled “Missouri’s Clean Energy is Behind in the Game, but At Least They’re Trying,” which evaluated how quickly Missouri was moving away from conventional energy sources towards environmentalist power like solar and wind. 4
In 2015, the FracTracker Alliance launched a mobile app that allows users to track and report on the quality of nearby wells. The app allows users to click on the wells to see more information about a particular site, such as when it was drilled or who operates the well. The app also lets its users make comments and post pictures about individual well sites. 5
The FracTracker Alliance also launched the FracTracker Web App that explores the scope and impacts of gas and oil development. It has similar features to the mobile app, such as the activity feed which features and maps user reports. It also has a customizable map that allows users to select which type of user reports appear and which types of development to track. 6
On August 18, 2020, the Fractracker Alliance dispatched two teams to travel across the Ohio River Valley in order to create a virtual story map in real time. The story map argues that conventional energy programs and petrochemical development have negatively impacted the region’s people and environment. Some of the sites on the map include the Bruce Mansfield coal power plant, the Shell Ethane Cracker construction site, the Beaver Valley Nuclear Power Station, the Cardinal Coal-Fired Power Plant, and the Guernsey Power Station. 7
In 2021, Fractracker Alliance obtained documents which alleged that the Shell Falcon Pipeline was under investigation for safety issues involving the Pennsylvania Attorney General, the Pipeline Hazardous Materials Safety Administration, the U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. The investigation is ongoing and focused on potential “noncompliance with construction and public safety requirements and alleged cover-up of incidents that could put the public at risk.” Fractracker Alliance has alleged that the pipeline company may have constructed the Falcon pipeline with defective corrosion coating protection. 8
David “Brook” Lenker is the executive director of FracTracker Alliance and is based in Camp Hill, Pennsylvania. He is the overseer of the fundraising, program, and operational activities of FracTracker. Before working at FracTracker, Brook was the director of watershed stewardship for the Alliance for the Chesapeake Bay and worked as manager of education and outreach for the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources. 9
John Dawes is the president of FracTracker Alliance. He has also been the executive director of the left-of-center Foundation for Pennsylvania Watersheds since 1994. 10
Donors to FracTracker.org (Original Project)
FracTracker originated as a website run by the University of Pittsburgh, created in 2010. 11 FracTracker.org (and its associated Ohio project) was financed with grants from a number of left-of-center foundations, most notably Heinz Endowments, a left-of-center grantmaking foundation in Pennsylvania associated with liberal activists and Democratic donors John Kerry and Teresa Heinz.
Between 2011 and 2013, Heinz Endowments paid three grants totaling $564,100 to the left-of-center pass-through group Foundation for Pennsylvania Watersheds to support FracTracker. 12
The following are known grants to the original FracTracker website: 14 In 2015, Heinz paid $873,200 to FracTracker Alliance in four grants. 15
The following are known donors to FracTracker Alliance as a stand-alone nonprofit: 16
|Heinz Endowments||$400,000||2015||To support mapping analytical work and community research in shale areas and to support planning and execution of oil train conferences in Pittsburgh pa|
|Heinz Endowments||$383,200||2015||To support expanded mapping and analytical activities to inform and educate constituencies about impacts of hydro fracturing|
|Schmidt Family Foundation||$100,000||2014||To support analysis on environmental public health and socioeconomic impacts of the oil and gas industry.|
|Schmidt Family Foundation||$100,000||2015||Putting data to work|
|Schmidt Family Foundation||$100,000||2016||Empowering California and Colorado communities to a better energy future|
|Schmidt Family Foundation||$100,000||2013||To provide general operating support|
|Colcom Foundation||$55,000||2017||Supporting public understanding of ethane-based industry build out in southwestern Pennsylvania|
|Colcom Foundation||$53,000||2014||Drilling into monitoring|
|Heinz Endowments||$50,000||2015||To support planning and execution of conferences in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania addressing the risks associated .with transporting volatile crude oil by rail|
|Park Foundation||$43,000||2014||Continued role as a resource for understanding the impacts of unconventional od and gas development in New York|
|Park Foundation||$40,000||2013||Empowering New Yorkers with shale gas data information and insights|
|Heinz Endowments||$40,000||2015||To expand community environmental and experiential data in shale fields|
|John M Hopwood Charitable Trust||$25,000||2017||YEARLY GRANT DISTRIBUTION|
|Neall Family Charitable Foundation||$20,000||2017||GENERAL CHARITABLE PURPOSES|
|Hillsdale Fund Inc||$15,000||2016||The purpose of each grant is to assist the tax exempt organization to carry out its exempt purpose|
|Neall Family Charitable Foundation||$10,000||2016||General charitable purposes|
|Patagonia Org||$4,000||2015||To support environmental projects|
- “About Us | FracTracker.” FracTracker Alliance. Last modified May 5, 2020. https://www.fractracker.org/about-us
- “FracTracker Content | Explore Site by Category or Article Type.” FracTracker Alliance. Last modified January 27, 2021. https://www.fractracker.org/categories/by-content/.
- Ferrar, Kyle. “Documenting Emissions from New Oil and Gas Wells in California.” FracTracker Alliance. Last modified April 15, 2021. https://www.fractracker.org/2020/11/documenting-emissions-from-new-oil-and-gas-wells-in-california/.
- Ferrar, Kyle. “Missouri’s Clean Energy is Behind in the Game, but at Least They’re Trying.” FracTracker Alliance. Last modified April 15, 2021. https://www.fractracker.org/2018/08/missouri-behind-in-the-game/.
- Lynch, Michael. “Watchdog Group FracTracker Launches IPhone App to Monitor Drilling Sites.” 90.5 WESA. Last modified January 9, 2015. https://www.wesa.fm/environment-energy/2015-01-09/watchdog-group-fractracker-launches-iphone-app-to-monitor-drilling-sites.
- “FracTracker Mobile App.” FracTracker Alliance. Last modified April 27, 2021. https://www.fractracker.org/apps/#toggle-id-4.
- “FracTracker in the Field.” ArcGIS StoryMaps. Accessed May 10, 2021. https://storymaps.arcgis.com/stories/6dacffb16d9140098b26ca1c11c5bb49.
- Kurutz, Daveen R. “Advocacy Group Says Shell’s Falcon Pipeline Under Investigation for Safety Issues.” Beaver County Times. Last modified March 17, 2021. https://www.timesonline.com/story/news/2021/03/17/report-says-pennsylvania-federal-groups-investigating-shell-falcon-pipeline-fractracker-alliance-epa/4732444001/.
- “About Brook Lenker, Executive Director.” FracTracker Alliance. Accessed May 6, 2021. https://www.fractracker.org/author/brook-lenker/.
- “Board of Directors.” FracTracker Alliance. Last modified November 11, 2018. https://www.fractracker.org/about-us/board/.
- FracTracker.org (archived site). June 21, 2010. Accessed April 7, 2021. https://web.archive.org/web/20100621001029/http://www.fractracker.org/
- Return of Foundation Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990-PF). Heinz Endowments. 2011-2012. Schedule I.
See list of grants at Foundation for Pennsylvania Watersheds: https://www.influencewatch.org/non-profit/foundation-for-pennsylvania-watersheds/#donors-to-foundation-for-pennsylvania-watersheds
- Information provided by FoundationSearch. Search conducted April 7, 2021 using grant keyword “fractracker.” www.FoundationSearch.org
Foundation Recipient Name Amount Year Grant Description Heinz Endowments Community Foundation Of Greater Johnstown $450,000 2012 To expand the fractracker website and citizen stewardship as a core Marcellus shale strategy (GREATER JOHNSTOWN) Heinz Endowments Foundation For Pennsylvania Water Sheds $365,000 2013 For site-specific restoration and enhancement of fractracker org Heinz Endowments Community Foundation Of Greater Johnstown $340,000 2013 To expand the fractracker website and citizen stewardship as a core Marcellus shale strategy Heinz Endowments Foundation For Pennsylvania Watersheds $150,000 2011 Environment - to support continued development of fractracker George Gund Foundation Community Foundation Of Greater Johnstown $75,000 2017 FRACTRACKER OHIO George Gund Foundation Community Foundation Of Greater Johnstown $75,000 2018 FracTracker Ohio. George Gund Foundation Community Foundation Of Greater Johnstown $75,000 2018 FracTracker Ohio. George Gund Foundation Community Foundation Of Greater Johnstown $65,000 2013 Fractracker Ohio. George Gund Foundation Community Foundation Of Greater Johnstown $65,000 2012 Fractracker Ohio Heinz Endowments Community Foundation Of Greater Johnstown $50,000 2011 Environment - to expand the fractracker website and citizen stewardship as a core Marcellus Shale strategy Heinz Endowments Foundation For Pennsylvania Watersheds $49,100 2011 Environment - for participation in Marcellus Shale activities especially fractracker Total: $1,759,100
Donors to FracTracker Alliance
In 2019, Heinz Endowments donated a total of $565,000 across three grants to FracTracker Alliance. 13Return of Foundation Exempt from Income Tax (Form 990-PF). Heinz Endowments. 2019. Schedule I. Archived: https://www.influencewatch.org/app/uploads/2021/04/Heinz-Endowments-2019-Form-990.pdf
- Information provided by FoundationSearch. Search conducted April 7, 2021. www.FoundationSearch.org
- Information provided by FoundationSearch. Search conducted April 7, 2021. www.FoundationSearch.org