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Wed, 2010-10-20 12:04Emma Pullman
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Big Oil Goes to College: Report Explores the Corporate Control of University Energy Research

The Center for American Progress released a comprehensive analysis and independent expert review examining the implications of the confirmed $833 million in corporate funding from Big Oil to energy research at universities over the last decade. The report examines 10 recent university-industry agreements involving as many as 43 companies, 13 leading universities, and two federal research labs. 

B
ig Oil Goes to College: An Analysis of 10 Research Collaboration Contracts between Leading Energy Companies and Major U.S. Universities explores the growing phenomenon of academic-corporate partnerships at universities, and the findings demonstrate why everyone ought to be concerned. As these partnerships are only likely to proliferate and expand, how universities manage knowledge for the public good - particularly research that has considerable ramifications for how we deal with the climate crisis - must be addressed.

Before Congress releases billions of dollars in federal funding for R&D of alternative and renewable energy and energy efficiency through these public-private partnerships, it should take a good look at the CAP report’s findings and recommendations.  

Tue, 2010-08-03 13:46Brendan DeMelle
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Wetlands Front Group Funded By Big Oil Wants To Ensure Taxpayers Foot The Bill For BP's Gulf Destruction

UPDATE: Sandra Bullock has issued a statement through her publicist saying that,

“Ms. Bullock was originally contacted through her attorney to be a part of the PSA in order to promote awareness of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. At no time was she made aware that any organization, oil company or otherwise had influence over Women of the Storm or its message. We have immediately asked for her participation in the PSA be removed until the facts can be determined. Her commitment to the Gulf region has been apparent for many years and she will continue to pursue opportunities that will bring awareness and support to the plight of the Gulf region.”

 

A group of oil companies including BP, Shell, ExxonMobil, Citgo, Chevron and other polluters are using a front group called “America’s WETLAND Foundation” and a Louisiana women’s group called Women of the Storm to spread the message that U.S. taxpayers should pay for the damage caused by BP to Gulf Coast wetlands, and that the reckless offshore oil industry should continue drilling for the “wholesale sustainability” of the region.

Using the age-old PR trick of featuring celebrity messengers to attract public attention, America’s Wetland Foundation is spreading a petition accompanied by a video starring Sandra Bullock, Dave Matthews, Lenny Kravitz, Emeril Lagassi, John Goodman, Harry Shearer, Peyton and Eli Manning, Drew Brees and others.

The video urges petition signers to “Be The One” to demand the government devise and fully fund a plan to restore the Gulf. There is no mention that BP, Halliburton, Transocean, Cameron, or any other oil industry player “be the one” to pay for the damage done to the Gulf. Why call on the government to once again foot the bill for this dirty industry’s reckless behavior?

Tue, 2010-07-13 11:14Brendan DeMelle
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ScamWow! Greenpeace Has The Perfect Solution For Scrubbing BP's Oily Image

Mocking the scam that is the BP cleanup, Greenpeace today released the ‘ScamWow!’ infomercial targeting BP and other oil companies who need a quick solution whenever pesky ecological devastation results from their irresponsible, risky drilling practices.

Spoofing the original late night cable sensation, the ScamWow! info-mock-cial demonstrates how the simple budget picker upper’s cleaning powers can instantly sanitize tar-balled beaches, scrub the oil company’s public image, and save shareholders millions in onerous cleanup costs - savings the company can then invest in more insulting “We will make this right” TV commercials and full-page ads.

The scary part is that the ScamWow! spoof isn’t too far off the actual claims made by BP in the wake of the Deepwater disaster. Touring Louisiana’s oil-drenched Fourchon Beach on May 24th, BP CEO Tony Hayward pledged to ‘clean every last drop’ and return the Gulf to full health (which it hasn’t seen in decades, but that’s beside the point for BP’s current PR purposes).

Tue, 2010-06-29 10:56Jim Hoggan
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Lies Concocted By Climate Deniers Likely To Stick Around Despite Corrections

It takes less than a minute to tell a lie that can spread around the world, yet it can take days, months, or years to correct it.  Sometimes the truth never catches up to the lie.

As Newsweek’s Sharon Begley wrote this past weekend, nowhere is this challenge demonstrated more clearly than in the wake of the ‘Climategate’ stolen emails controversy and the recent retraction by the Sunday Times of London surrounding its bogus ‘Amazongate’ reporting. 

Begley details how, despite multiple investigations concluding that climate science remains on solid ground and exonerating the main climate scientists targeted in the University of East Anglia attacks, the “highly orchestrated, manufactured scandal” still manages to fool a large portion of the public into thinking that climate change warnings are overblown.

Begley writes:
A lie can get halfway around the world while the truth is still putting its boots on, as Mark Twain said (or “before the truth gets a chance to put its pants on,” in Winston Churchill’s version), and nowhere has that been more true than in “climategate.” In that highly orchestrated, manufactured scandal, e-mails hacked from computers at the University of East Anglia’s climate-research group  were spread around the Web by activists who deny that human activity is altering the world’s climate in a dangerous way, and spun so as to suggest that the scientists had been lying, cheating, and generally cooking the books.

    But not only did British investigators clear the East Anglia scientist at the center of it all, Phil Jones, of scientific impropriety and dishonesty in April, an investigation at Penn State cleared PSU climatologist Michael Mann of “falsifying or suppressing data, intending to delete or conceal e-mails and information, and misusing privileged or confidential information” in February.

Wed, 2010-06-23 17:25Richard Littlemore
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Rick George Defends Oil Industry's Poor R&D Record

Transocean’s Man in the Tar Sands

Suncor President and CEO Rick George - who is also on the Board of Directors of the Gulf-spilling service company, Transocean - seems to have spent Tuesday stumbling over his own tongue. First, he annoyed Alberta Deputy Premier Doug Horner by supporting a carbon tax that is applied evenly across the country.

That, Horner groused, amounts to a national energy policy, the likes of which no Alberta politician will ever tolerate.

Then, at the same event (an Air and Waste Management conference in Calgary), the Suncor boss both prodded the oil and gas industry to do more research - and then rose incredibly to defend the industry’s current, pathetic R&D record.

Mon, 2010-06-21 10:53Richard Littlemore
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BP funds full court press by DC lobbyists

The Washington Post has done a nice round-up of how desperately BP is trying to circle the lobbyists in an effort to minimize the political price it will pay for devastating the Gulf Coast.

But per Jim Hoggan’s analysis here last week, no amount of PR spin will rescue the company when its own partner, Anadarko, is accusing BP of recklessness and incompetence.

The lobbyist line, of course, is that they’re just there to help. In fact, the Post quotes “a lobbyist for one of the key players,” saying this:

“I think for the most part the lobbyists for all the companies have just been trying to give information to people; it has not been focused on policy questions at all. There’s a thirst for information despite the media saturation.”

Wouldn’t that sound so much more convincing if BP (“5,000 barrels per day”) had been disseminating information that was accurate?

Fri, 2010-06-11 17:50Jim Hoggan
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BP’s Crisis Communications Strategy Is Fundamentally Flawed

How a company handles a crisis is the ultimate test of its character. 

Does it accept responsibility for mistakes or bad decisions, work to make amends and to improve its practices moving forward? 

Or does it resort to what I call Darth Vader PR, launching a public relations offensive to spin the public, seeking to deflect legitimate criticism?

If you fail this crisis communications test, as BP has recently, it usually indicates underlying character problems in your organization.  It demonstrates that you are out of touch with the momentous shift of social norms towards a more sustainable economic and environmental future. 
 
The New York Times reported recently that BP CEO Tony Hayward is in the crosshairs for his repeated gaffes and BP’s alleged cover-ups:

“Instead of reassuring the public, critics say, Mr. Hayward has turned into a day-after-day reminder of BP’s public relations missteps in responding to the crisis…
Mr. Hayward and the company have repeatedly played down the size of the spill, the company’s own role in the April 20 explosion of the Deepwater Horizon, and the environmental damage that has occurred. At the same time, they have projected a tone of unrelenting optimism despite repeated failures to plug the well.”


There’s a word for that ‘unrelenting optimism’ in the face of total failure to get the job done – incompetence.  BP not only can’t plug the blowout, the company can’t even express genuine concern about the impact of its growing mess.  There’s a word for that too – insincerity.

Thu, 2010-06-10 19:00Morgan Goodwin
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Exercise in Denial: BP Still Claims No Oil Plumes

BP Executives Tony Hayward and Doug Suttles have repeatedly denied the existence of underwater oil plumes in recent weeks.  They cite expert evidence and studies, even as multiple other studies have shown the existence of plumes.  Just how deep is the culture of denial in this large oil company?

Energy Boom reported on May 31st that “Hayward said samples taken by the company show no evidence of large masses of underwater oil.  He said that oil’s natural tendency is to rise to rise to the surface, and any oil underwater is currently making its way to the top.”

Days earlier, on May 28th, the Wall Street Journal reported a University of South Florida research vessel discovered an oil plume 1300 feet below the surface.  Then on June 9th, a two-week research expedition on the Walton Smith (pictured above) found overwhelming amounts of evidence for plumes and large clouds of oil below the surface.  The samples, pulled from depths of up to 1200 meters “stank to high heaven,” researcher Smanatha Joye said. “They smelled like creosote, asphalt and diesel.”

Yet on June 9th BP COO of Exploration and Production told NBC’s Today show still defended Hayward’s statement, saying “we haven’t found any large concentrations of oil under the sea” and that it “may be down to how you define what a plume is here.” Watch the whole chilling interview:

Visit msnbc.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy

Wed, 2010-05-05 12:50Morgan Goodwin
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Offshore Drilling Industry Has Its Own 'Conservation Organization'

One surefire way for conservation groups not to criticize the largest offshore drilling company in the world in the wake of a huge spill is for that company to sponsor and support its own conservation organization.

In this 2005 image, GMF President John LaRue accepts a check from BP’s Hugh Depland (left) at a recent reception.

Unfortunately, the deep connections between the Gulf of Mexico Foundation and Transocean Limited, (owners of the disastrous Deepwater Horizon rig) were omitted by the New York Times this week, which wrote a surprisingly positive front-page story about how the drilling disaster ‘wasn’t that bad’.  NYTimes reporters Tom Zeller Jr. and John M. Broder spend the first half of the article on quotes from Edward Overton of LSU and Quenton Dokken of the Gulf of Mexico Foundation.

Sat, 2010-03-13 15:06Leslie Berliant
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Partisanship and Disinformation Surrounding Global Warming Taking their Toll

A new Gallup poll shows that compared to three years ago, twice as many Americans believe that global warming’s consequences are exaggerated.

And in just the last year, there has been an increase in skepticism from 41% to 48%.

The chart below shows a number of trends. Skepticism about global warming was generally low in 1997, when the polling started, before climate change was getting regular news coverage, either fact or opinion based.

In fact, the level of skepticism did not change much with the increasing coverage of climate change in the wake of An Inconvenient Truth, increasingly publicized consensus among the vast majority of climate scientists that global warming was real, human caused and potentially devastating, the Third Assessment Report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 2001, or even the Nobel prize winning Fourth IPCC Assessment Report in 2007. So, we could assume that roughly 30% of the skeptics are not going to be persuaded by science. They have their opinion and they are sticking to it.

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