Commentary: BP should share oil spill impact research

The Biloxi Sun HeraldJuly 21, 2010 

There's been quite a bit of discussion regarding BP's employment of academic expertise to help the company assess the damage caused by its oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

Dr. Denis Wiesenburg, vice president for research at the University of Southern Mississippi, has tried to nip any notion of a wholesale sellout by USM's staff to BP by declaring: "We made it clear we didn't want to become the university of BP."

And, according to a report in the Mobile Press-Register, when BP "attempted to hire the entire marine sciences department" at the University of South Alabama, Bob Shipp, the head of the department, said: "We told them there was no way we would agree to any kind of restrictions on the data we collect. It was pretty clear we wouldn't be hearing from them again after that. We didn't like the perception of the university representing BP in any fashion."

So if BP is trying to corner the market on coastal scientists, it has a long way to go.

Granted, BP is trying to assemble a scientific team of its own to prepare for the Natural Resources Damage Assessment that is required by federal law after such an event as the Deepwater Horizon disaster. At some point, BP and the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will meet to assess the damage to natural resources.

To read the complete editorial, visit The Biloxi Sun Herald.

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