BP Oil Buying-off Gulf Coast Scientists

As if the criminality of BP could not get any worse, they’ve found a new low to sink to. In an effort to cover up their criminal actions, BP has been caught trying to bribe public university scientists into lying on their behalf. The bribes are offered in the form of high paying contracts to produce lawyer-created research assignments.

Since the spill, BP has hired more than a dozen public university scientists and has offered contracts to dozens more under the auspices of its participation in the Natural Resource Damage Assessment (NRDA). Established by the 1990 Oil Pollution Act in the wake of the 1989 Exxon Valdez spill, the NRDA allows the oil industry to participate with the government in calculating the cost of restoration after spills.

The contracts were detail by environmental lawyer Robert Wiygul: “This is not an agreement to do research for BP, this is an agreement to join BP’s legal team… You agree to communicate with BP through their attorneys and to take orders from their attorneys.”

The contract does not allow scientists to share information collected while doing research. It stipulates that scientists shall “maintain the strict confidentiality of…non-public communications and information unless or until a person from whom you are authorized to take instructions [BP Attorneys] informs you in writing that this restriction is no longer applicable to any particular non-public communication or information.”

Scientists are reportedly being offered anywhere from $150 to $250 per hour, depending on their level of experience, in exchange for their work for BP.

According to Richard Shaw, associate dean of the Louisiana State University School of the Coast and Environment: “People are signing on with BP because the government funding to the universities has been so limited…. It’s a sad state of affairs. The science is already suffering. The government needs to come through with funding for the universities. They are letting go of the most important group of scientists, the ones who study the Gulf.”

This new information shows quite starkly the true nature of the profit motive behind the destruction of the environment and the drive to cover it up.