BP plotted to influence what scientists say about oil spill’s impact

According to internal emails BP plotted to influence what scientists say about oil spill’s impact

By Michael Smith (Veshengro)

Now, why am I not surprised one bit... It is exactly what I expected from BP and others in the industry. The same as the palm oil industry keeps telling us how sustainable palm oil supposedly is; which it is not.

On the eve of first anniversary of the onset of the BP oil spill, spill-weary Gulf natives have a fresh reminder of how the oil giant has devoted itself to studiously downplaying the damage of the disaster: A recently leaked body of internal company correspondence shows senior BP brass trying to spin scientific research produced by company-paid researchers in order to minimize the scale of the spill's destruction in the public mind.

The news doesn't exactly come as a shock to many in the Gulf region and neither to me, one of the corporate world's cynics. After all, when the Mobile Press-Register first reported last summer that BP was contracting to hire a battery of coastal scientists, many theorized that some such initiative was afoot. And now the internal BP emails obtained by Greenpeace through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) appear to bear such worries out.

According to information BP officials sought to tailor the findings of company-funded research. Last May, BP announced that it was ponying up $500 million to fund “an open research program studying the impact of the Deepwater Horizon incident.” That mega-project is now known as the Gulf of Mexico Research Institute (GRI), and to judge by the emails released via Greenpeace, company leaders were deeply concerned with how to spin to the group's findings given they footed its research bills.

“Can we 'direct' GRI funding to a specific study (as we now see the governor's offices trying to do),” BP environmental official Russell Putt asked in a June 2010 email. “What influence do we have over the vessels/equipment driving the studies vs the questions?”

Another email written by a BP environmental officer, Karen Ragoonanan-Jalim, indicates that company officials met in Houma, Louisiana, to discuss how they might “steer the research” to best serve the oil company's interests, writing that officials discussed how “BP can influence this long-term research programme” to “undertake the studies we believe will be useful.”

None of this, and the many more emails that seems to have circulated of a similar nature, surprises those of us that have always been sceptical of any green claims of BP and so many other multinational corporate giants.

They are a little like politicians. You know when they lie. Their lips move and when they try to hide behind sustainability, green, CSR, etc., then the spin is really on and the speed of the spin is faster than that of any turbine.

“By their fruits you shall know them,” it says in the Bible and that also can be translated into this realm, and the fruits that they produce are bitter and inedible.

© 2011