Universities in MS, LA, and Texas sell research to BP – and we wonder "why Johnny can't read"

“Without academic integrity, there can be no trust or reliance on the effectiveness, accuracy, or value

of a University’s teaching, learning, research, or public service activities.”

Foreign oil giant BP is on a spending spree, buying Gulf Coast scientists for its private contractor army. Scientists from Louisiana State University, Mississippi State University and Texas A&M have “signed contracts with BP to work on their behalf in the Natural Resources Damage Assessment (NRDA) process” that determines how much ecological damage the Gulf of Mexico region is suffering from BP’s toxic black tide. The contract, the Mobile Press-Register has learned, “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.”

I’d already picked up the Think Progress post hanging on the Editilla’s awesome new Ladder and was ready to call out Mississippi State when I ran across a Clarion Ledger story suggesting Mississippi’s Commissioner of Higher Education may have set the stage for this breech of academic integrity and involved more than just MSU:

University researchers will spend the months ahead calculating the economic toll of the BP PLC oil spill on Mississippi’s Gulf Coast communities and the state….In May, Higher Education Commissioner Hank Bounds called on the four research universities that make up the Mississippi Research Consortium to form a Deepwater Horizon Response Team to coordinate university efforts.

According to Think Progress, “Bob Shipp, head of marine sciences at the University of South Alabama — whose entire department BP wished to hire — refused to sign over their integrity to the corporate criminal”

We told them there was no way we would agree to any kind of restrictions on the data we collect. It was pretty clear we wouldn’t be hearing from them again after that. We didn’t like the perception of the university representing BP in any fashion.

SLABBED applauds Shipp’s stand for academic integrity:

The lucrative $250-an-hour deal “buys silence,” said Robert Wiygul, an Ocean Springs environmental lawyer who analyzed the contract. “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.

These efforts to buy silence and cooperation come in addition to the $500 million Gulf Research Initiative, a Tobacco Institute-like program managed by a panel picked by BP to disburse scientific research grants in the coming years. Louisiana State University, University of Florida’s Florida Institute of Oceanography, and Mississippi State University’s Northern Gulf Institute have already accepted $10 million each.

Leave it to LSU to play the victim role:

In contrast, the federal government has failed to coordinate the massive research program needed to save the Gulf, preventing academic researchers from observing the data collected by the NRDA teams that include both government and BP contractors. “The science is already suffering,” Richard Shaw, associate dean of Louisiana State University’s School of the Coast and Environment said. “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.” (HT: The Independent Weekly)

Do we really need to wonder “why Johnny can’t read”?

7 thoughts on “Universities in MS, LA, and Texas sell research to BP – and we wonder "why Johnny can't read"”

  1. Great post Nowdy on so many levels as I am writing one on this general topic as we speak and it includes some concepts that will meld really well with my report from Western Carolina University.

    At LSU speaking out against the berms will get you fired. It is easier to sell out to BP.

    Anyone else remember Engenus?


  2. Question: why isn’t the govt requiring BP to fund these contracts as part of the mitigation with all info to be released ? And if the universities are state entities then any contracts belong to “we the people”.

    Can someone please explain to me how these public university well paid Professors are allowed to siphon off $10M from the BP response, agree to hide the info and their findings and keep getting my tax dollars.

    Send them into the private sector to struggle with the rest of us to pay taxes to support higher education. They aren’t in the classrooms any way; their graduate assistants are there teaching.


  3. No wonder there was such an uprising when the University of South Alabama attempted to establish a branch on the Mississippi Coast – the academic integrity of USA would have blown the cover on the lack of same in our own. I’m beyond disgusted, Unslabbed.

  4. Maybe that is the reason Rob Young and the team at WCU didn’t sign with BP. 😉

    Sorry Editilla. :-(

    Stay tuned. Nowdy didn’t know it when she wrote this post but it is really part 1 of a 2 part post. Part 2 will run early tomorrow morning.


  5. Good to know part 2 will follow tomorrow, Sop – my blood pressure couldn’t take more about this today!

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