Emails Show BP Trying to Manipulate Post-Spill Research
In emails obtained by Greenpeace through the Freedom of Information Act and reported in the Guardian, it's revealed that the company tried to "influence" the work of scientists under a supposedly independent and rigorous fund the oil magnate set up to study the impact of the disastrous Gulf oil spill. As the Guardian notes, this information is likely to fuel widespread fears that BP is eager to avoid releasing information about the true impact of the spill.
Russell Putt, a BP environmental expert, wrote in an email to colleagues on 24 June 2010: "Can we 'direct' GRI [Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative] funding to a specific study (as we now see the governor's offices trying to do)? What influence do we have over the vessels/equipment driving the studies vs the questions?"
BP faces billions in fines and penalties, and possible criminal charges arising from the disaster. Its total liability will depend in part on a final account produced by scientists on how much oil entered the gulf from its blown-out well, and the damage done to marine life and coastal areas in Louisiana, Mississippi and Alabama. The oil company disputes the government estimate that 4.1m barrels of oil entered the gulf.
It's important to understand that the fund in question has probably not been influenced by BP, as it's vigorously established its independence. Still, these emails show how shameless the company has been in the wake of its own culpability in a massive disaster.
The Guardian piecealso discusses several more findings in the leaked emails, including quibbling between various government agencies over spill damage estimates. It's a must-read.