Saturday, January 19, 2008

UC at Berkeley and BP

"In February 2007, BP (British Petroleum) announced plans with the University of California (UC) at Berkeley, in partnership with the University of Illinois and the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, to lead the largest academic-industry research alliance in U.S. history."

"For a relatively small financial contribution, BP appropriates academic expertise from a leading public research institution, founded on 200 years of social support, to maximize its return on energy investments. These investments, in turn, are focused primarily on promoting the market for biofuel, the newest darling of those in power who stimulate change while maintaining "business as usual." (...) this case represents a new twist in the combination of debunked science, ecological imperialism, and the sophistry of "sustainable development.""

"The benefits to BP include access to leading scientists and laboratories, first rights for patent negotiations, and the rubber stamp of academia and science on its new projects. The benefit for the university is purely financial, though at least one third of the money goes to BP's own private projects on campus. The benefit for the public is hard to find. Politicians, university officials, and pro-market pundits laud this public-private partnership, while those critical of the "prostitution" of the university, including experts on biofuels' social and environmental impacts, are marginalized. This is not surprising given the undemocratic nature of the process whereby the details of the deal were negotiated without any public input."
Read the full report "Biofuels, BP-Berkeley, and the New Ecological Imperialism" by Hannah Holleman and Rebecca Clausen (backup here).

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