Stanford Claims Independence In ExxonMobil Deal, But Pact Details Show Otherwise;

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Key Part of Research Agreement Remains Secret

Santa Monica, CA — Stanford University President John Hennessy was asked today by the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR) to explain university claims of independence in response to concerns about the control of the ExxonMobil-funded research project at the university and to say why key elements of the agreement were not made public.

In a letter to Dr. Hennessy, FTCR’s John M. Simpson, thanked the president for a response to an earlier letter and asked him to reconcile the assertion that Stanford’s research integrity is ensured with the facts outlined in the Global Climate Energy Program agreement that is posted on its website. Read the GCEP agreement here.

FTCR also noted that Pages 40-48, “Exhibit a: Core Project Description” are omitted from the document as posted.

“What is so secret about the project that it has not been released?” Simpson asked.

Under the GCEP agreement the university doesn’t even get a vote on the GCEP‘s management committee. That committee ultimately decides which discoveries should be submitted for patents. ExxonMobil gets an exclusive five-year royalty-free license to any patented discoveries.

Read the most recent letters from Stanford and FTCR here.

“Contrary to the assertions of university officials, this clearly is not an ironclad policy that requires the results of research to be made public and not be subject to approval or review by sponsors,” said Simpson. “Perhaps before offering a knee-jerk defense of the program, Stanford administrators should read the agreement again.”

Recently the Stanford deal came under criticism when GCEP sponsor ExxonMobil, known for a policy of undermining scientists linking greenhouse gases to global warming, ran advertisements touting its relationship with the university. Movie producer Steve Bing, a Stanford alumnus, protested by canceling $2.5 million of his $25 million pledge to the school.

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The Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR) is a non-profit and non-partisan consumer advocacy group. For more information visit us on the web at

Consumer Watchdog
Consumer Watchdog
Providing an effective voice for American consumers in an era when special interests dominate public discourse, government and politics. Non-partisan.

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