Heinz spearheaded the creation of the nonprofit center in March 2013 to bring environmentalists and the natural gas industry together to explore and establish best practices for tapping the energy resources of the Marcellus Shale formation, which extends under much of southwestern Pennsylvania and the Appalachian Basin. The endowments' support for the center was criticized, however, by environmentalists who believed that any partnership with the industry was in direct conflict with the organization's support for environmental causes. The departure last year of the endowments' director of environmental programs, Caren Glotfelty, and president, Robert Vagt, is believed to have been tied to the controversy over the endowments' support for the center.
"Heinz [Endowments] was a founding entity in the startup of CSSD," Susan LeGros, the center's executive director, told the Post-Gazette. "As we proceed, we alter our messaging and it seemed accurate to identify them as an original funder and not a current funder."
The William Penn Foundation, which had awarded the center a $50,000 start-up grant, also no longer supports the organization. "They both decided to go in a different direction," LeGros told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review.