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BP Deal Sells Out UC-Berkeley | Oil Watchdog

Press Release

BP Deal Sells Out UC-Berkeley


Wed, Nov 14, 2007 at 3:26 pm

    BP Deal Sells Out UC-Berkeley

    November 14, 2007

    CONTACT: John M. Simpson, 310-392-0522, x317; or cell: 310-292-1902

    UC Deal With Oil Giant Sells Out University’s Values; Insults Regents and Public, Consumer Advocates Say;

    New Details Emerge Granting BP More Power Over University Research

    Santa Monica, CA — The $500 million deal with BP signed today by
    University of California officials to create the Energy Biosciences
    Institute (EBI) at UC Berkeley compromises the university’s commitment
    to public education by allowing secret corporate research on campus and
    giving the oil giant the right to block any proposed EBI action, the
    Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR) said.

    The contract was ratified by the Office of UC President Robert
    C. Dynes without being submitted to the Regents for approval or for
    public comment. In a clear snub to the Regents and the public,
    announcement of the controversial deal, which includes the University
    of Illinois and Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory as partners with
    Berkeley, came as the Regents were holding a regular meeting in Los

    "University of California bureaucrats are transforming the
    nation’s premier research university into Big Oil U’s UC-BP campus
    without adequate public discussion," said John M. Simpson, FTCR
    consumer advocate. "It is shameful. The Regents should have reviewed
    this. The public who are the shareholders of the UC system should have
    been able to comment."

    With the announcement from UC Berkeley came the release of the
    114-page agreement with the oil giant. A key element of the deal is
    that BP will conduct secret research at the EBI. Berkeley and the
    partners will have absolutely no control over the BP efforts.
    Approximately $35 million a year will go toward what the university
    describes as "open academic research." Another $15 million a year will
    go to the BP efforts housed adjacent the academic laboratories, but
    protected by "the use of keycard or other electronic access and
    monitoring system."

    "BP researchers will be able to suck up the best of what
    Berkeley’s scientists have to offer, retreat behind locked, guarded
    doors and pursue their corporate agenda with out giving anything back,"
    said Simpson. "Academic research is based on an exchange of ideas and
    information. This is a one-way street benefiting only BP."

    Another troubling aspect of the deal, hammered out behind
    closed doors over the last 10 months, is the EBI’s Governance
    Committee, FTCR said. It gives BP more control of the EBI and research
    than envisioned in the original proposal. In that document the
    committee was made up of three academic representatives and two BP

    In the signed contract, the committee is made up of four
    representatives appointed by Berkeley and four by BP. All action must
    be approved by a majority; in case of a tie — if the Berkeley
    chancellor and BP representative can¿t reach an accord — the action is

    "BP can thwart any action they wish," said Simpson. "And given
    the despicable record of BP, which killed 15 of its workers in Texas
    and spilled oil all over Alaska because of unreasonable cost cutting,
    why should we believe the oil giant would act in good faith? They have
    demonstrated time and again that they act only in their own narrow

    Apparently in reaction to concerns voiced by some faculty,
    students and other opponents of the deal, that BP would use the
    agreement to "greenwash" its deservedly sullied image by associating
    with UC-Berkeley’s name, the contract contains a provision requiring
    written approval before its name or trademarks are used in any

    "After they’ve transformed Berkeley into Big Oil U, who’d want to be associated with that image anyway?" asked Simpson.

    – 30 –

    The Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights is California’s
    leading non-profit and non-partisan consumer watchdog group. For more
    information visit us on the web at: www.ConsumerWatchdog.org and www.OilWatchdog.org.

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