from ESSENTIAL ACTION, GREENPEACE USA, and the
November 2, 2007
Media reports indicate the University of California system may be on the verge of signing a contract to create the proposed Energy Biosciences Institute (EBI) with BP. It is obviously a matter of urgent priority for the health of the planet to promote research and innovation related to alternative energy, and it is imperative that public research institutions direct major new resources to such endeavors. It is not at all obvious, however, that public institutions should do this in collaboration with giant oil companies that are contributing massively to climate change.
At minimum, such collaborations require intense scrutiny and informed debate. The prospect of giant carbon polluters directing research related to and gaining control of key energy technologies is very troubling -- especially when the research is conducted at, and the technologies are developed in collaboration with, public institutions. In this regard, the details of the UC-BP research agreement are of great importance. They will specify how research priorities are to be established, and how the fruits of the research collaboration are to be managed and controlled.
Such matters can only be thoroughly assessed after the final proposed contractual terms are released. We therefore are writing to urge you to delay signing of the final contract with BP. Instead, the text of the EBI agreement should be released for a meaningful period of public comment and analysis -- before the University of California commits itself to the agreement. It is also clear that a matter of such importance should be scrutinized in advance at the highest levels of the university governance system, in this case the University of California Regents.
We look forward to your timely reply, and hope that you will give the public an opportunity to assess and undertake informed debate in advance of finalization of this controversial proposal.
John M. Simpson