Key Proposal Documents Were Withheld From Public View Until Revealed By Students
Santa Monica, CA — Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau has mischaracterized the university’s dealings with oil giant BP to create a $500 million alternative energy research institute at the public university as “open” when in fact key documents were withheld from public view, consumer advocates said today.
In a letter to Birgeneau, the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights’ John Simpson noted that the chancellor and other university officials had said the entire deal proposal had been posted on an official website to promote the Energy Biosciences Institute, when in fact 115 pages of appendices were held back. The mischaracterization of the process by university officials calls into question the substance of any assurances they make, FTCR said.
“Could you please explain why I should accept the substantive assertions of your letter as correct when such a fundamental mischaracterization of the deliberative process as ‘open’ as occurred?” Simpson wrote. Birgeneau had responded to early concerns from FTCR about granting control of research and discoveries to BP and of the likelihood BP would use its association with Berkeley to greenwash the oil giant’s image in PR campaigns.
The existence of the missing documents were discovered by a student group, StopBP-Berkeley, and only recently posted after the group filed a Public Records Act request.
The university’s Faculty Senate is scheduled to consider the BP deal at a meeting on April 19.
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The Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights is a Santa Monica, CA based nonprofit, nonpartisan consumer advocacy organization. Visit our website at www.ConsumerWatchdog.org.