I have a new story out for NRDC's OnEarth, about BP's pledge to fund $ 500 million worth of Gulf coast research in the wake of the oil spill, and how that has been ensnared by politics. It starts like this:
For ocean scientists anguished about the oil gushing uncontrollably into the Gulf of Mexico, May 24 brought dramatic news. BP pledged $500 million over 10 years for a research program to determine the ecological consequences of the spill, with the money to be distributed through an independent panel to the "best marine biologists and oceanographers in the world."
More than three months later, however, the vast bulk of that money remains uncommitted, and it's unclear how it will be distributed. Scientists say that thanks to these delays, key research opportunities in the wake of the spill could be missed.
It might seem tempting to simply blame BP. But what happened to the research fund -- or rather, what didn’t -- is a story of how politics and bureaucracy can stall urgent scientific inquiry, even amid an ongoing national and ecological crisis.
You can read the full story here.