Our opinion: The middle works

There is a cynical old saying that no good deed goes unpunished and another that you can please some of the people some of the time, but never all of the people all of the time.

The latest example of both of those addages is the Heinz Endowments, which recently provided funding for the Center for Sustainable Shale Development, which works with the natural gas drilling industry to reduce pollution.

The stated purpose of the Center is to work with both environmental advocates and the drilling industry to try to establish environmentally friendly techniques for deep shale exploration and gas extraction. In essence, the Center is attempting to do something that is proving to be increasingly difficult in a polarized society such as ours: Walk that fine line that represents the middle in an effort to benefit both sides.

It wasn’t long after the announcement that a liberal-leaning group that investigates corporations and businesses, the Public Accountability Initiative, criticized the Heinz Endowments (which are not affiliated with the food company) for its financial involvement because the president of the philanthropic group has ties to the oil and gas industry.

“I don’t think it’s a fair criticism,” said Larry Schweiger, the president of the National Wildlife Federation.

Neither do we.

It does, however, illustrate the depth of the polarization that exists with regard to environmental issues as well as a host of others.

The Heinz Endowments, led by Teresa Heinz Kerry, the widow of former U.S. Senator and Heinz heir John Heinz, has been noted for its millions of dollars in grants to environmental groups that have criticized the oil, gas and coal industries’ effect on public health. Contributing to an effort to attempts to protect the environment and public health, while at the same time accepting the reality that oil, gas and coal are still a necessity, is the best way to find solutions.