Wednesday, 28 July 2010

BP Buys up Gulf Scientists for Legal Defense, Roiling Academic Community - Alabama Local

Well that ain't good. It still bums me out that scientists go for this crap...I like to think we're better informed people, or more environmentally conscious people...but really we're just people.

"The Press-Register obtained a copy of a contract offered to scientists by BP. It prohibits the scientists from publishing their research, sharing it with other scientists or speaking about the data that they collect for at least the next three years."

This is actually a little scary. The scientists that BP hires cannot testify against them, no matter what their findings. By signing on they agree to silence their research and to take orders from BP's attorneys. The contract plainly states that BP is hiring scientists for the purpose of fighting the Natural Resource Damage Assessment being put forth by the US government in the wake of the spill. Unfortunately, as a result of the recession and major research funding cuts, many university scientists have jumped at the opportunity.

"More than one scientist interviewed by the Press-Register described being offered $250 an hour through BP lawyers. At eight hours a week, that amounts to $104,000 a year."

""It makes me feel like they were more interested in making sure we couldn't testify against them than in having us testify for them," said George Crozier, head of the Dauphin Island Sea Lab, who was approached by BP."

The US government will draw heavily from the research being conducted at academic institutions along the Gulf, but if BP hires out most of the scientists we're gonna have a problem. Lawyers and university officials see issues with using publicly owned laboratories to conduct private and confidential research. Scientists who have already signed on with BP were told by federal officials that they could expect to lose their government funding for ongoing research projects.

"BP PLC attempted to hire the entire marine sciences department at one Alabama university, according to scientists involved in discussions with the company's lawyers. The university declined because of confidentiality restrictions that the company sought on any research.
"We told them there was no way we would agree to any kind of restrictions on the data we collect,"
said Bob Shipp, head of marine sciences at the University of South Alabama. "It was pretty clear we wouldn't be hearing from them again after that.""

Full article here (Alabama Local)

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