Berkeley’s BP Money

Some students and faculty at the University of California, Berkeley object to Cal’s relationship to oil giant BP. The company somewhat controversially gave Berkeley $500 million to fund energy research back 2007. According to an Associated Press article in the San Francisco Chronicle:

On Friday, a group of activists staged an anti-BP demonstration next to the construction site where the university is building a new facility to house the research institute. They poured chocolate syrup on the sidewalk — to represent the oil spill — and held signs that read “Berkeley Petroleum” and “Do you want BP Pollution in Berkeley?”

“Now that we can see what BP is responsible for in the Gulf, we demand that the contract between UC and BP be re-looked at,” activist Stephanie Tang said, speaking to onlookers through a megaphone.

U.S. Energy Secretary Stephen Chu, who in 2007 was head of the affiliated Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, was one of the Berkeley administrators responsible for securing the BP money.

But then the Berkeley institute isn’t responsible for the oil spill and, as Berkeley’s vice chancellor of research, Graham Fleming, points out, the protesters’ request seems a little odd: “Why would anyone’s interest be served by stopping this research?” Fleming asked.

Daniel Luzer

Daniel Luzer is the news editor at Governing Magazine and former web editor of the Washington Monthly. Find him on Twitter: @Daniel_Luzer