What Happened to BP's $ 500 Million Pledge for Oil Spill Research?

By Chris Mooney | September 7, 2010 10:58 am

I have a new story out for NRDC’s OnEarth, about BP’s pledge to fund $ 500 million worth of Gulf coast research in the wake of the oil spill, and how that has been ensnared by politics. It starts like this:

For ocean scientists anguished about the oil gushing uncontrollably into the Gulf of Mexico, May 24 brought dramatic news. BP pledged $500 million over 10 years for a research program to determine the ecological consequences of the spill, with the money to be distributed through an independent panel to the “best marine biologists and oceanographers in the world.”

More than three months later, however, the vast bulk of that money remains uncommitted, and it’s unclear how it will be distributed. Scientists say that thanks to these delays, key research opportunities in the wake of the spill could be missed.

It might seem tempting to simply blame BP. But what happened to the research fund — or rather, what didn’t — is a story of how politics and bureaucracy can stall urgent scientific inquiry, even amid an ongoing national and ecological crisis.

You can read the full story here.

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About Chris Mooney

Chris is a science and political journalist and commentator and the author of three books, including the New York Times bestselling The Republican War on Science--dubbed "a landmark in contemporary political reporting" by Salon.com and a "well-researched, closely argued and amply referenced indictment of the right wing's assault on science and scientists" by Scientific American--Storm World, and Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens Our Future, co-authored by Sheril Kirshenbaum. They also write "The Intersection" blog together for Discover blogs. For a longer bio and contact information, see here.

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