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BP’s Ties To Obama Are Long, Complex

This nugget almost slipped past us unnoticed, from a damage controlling New York Times:

Before they joined the Department of Energy, Steven Chu, left, and Steven E. Koonin.

BP’s Ties to Agency Are Long and Complex


May 25, 2010

WASHINGTON — Three years ago, the national laboratory then headed by Steven Chu received the bulk of a $500 million grant from the British oil giant BP to develop alternative energy sources through a new Energy Biosciences Institute.

Dr. Chu received the grant from BP’s chief scientist at the time, Steven E. Koonin, a fellow theoretical physicist whom Dr. Chu jocularly described as “my twin brother.” Dr. Koonin had selected the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory at the University of California, Berkeley, over other universities in the United States and Britain in part because of Dr. Chu’s pioneering work in alternative fuels.

Today, Dr. Chu is President Obama’s energy secretary, and he spent Tuesday in Houston working with BP officials to try to find a way to stop the unabated flow of oil from a ruptured well a mile beneath the Gulf of Mexico.

Dr. Koonin, who followed Dr. Chu to the Energy Department and now serves as under secretary of energy for science, is recused from all matters relating to the disaster because of his past ties to BP, said Stephanie Mueller, an Energy Department spokeswoman.

Dr. Chu, she said, “has never had a financial interest in BP.”

Oh, well then.

The relationships among Dr. Chu, Dr. Koonin and BP illustrate the complexity of the ties between the company and the government now playing out along the Gulf Coast as they struggle to cope with one of the nation’s worst environmental disasters. Just as the Pentagon and military contractors develop symbiotic business, technical and political interdependencies, the government in this case needs BP’s offshore drilling technology and well-control equipment; the company needs the government’s logistical and scientific expertise, including that of Dr. Chu, a Nobel Prize-winning scientist

How laughable.

As we have noted previously, Mr. Chu is a co-winner of the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1997 for the “development of methods to cool and trap atoms with laser light.” Exactly how would BP need that kind of “scientific expertise”?

“Unfortunately,” Ms. Washburn added, “what people are questioning, with good reason, is whether the government has been too soft on BP.”

Added John M. Simpson of Consumer Watchdog: “From what I’ve seen, the Energy Department’s response has been less than rapid to this oil spill. This whole thing just underscores that corporate interests have created, over time, these relationships that give them unfair access to policy makers.”

Ms. Mueller, the Energy Department spokeswoman, said that the accusation that the agency reacted slowly to the spill was unfair, and that 150 people at national laboratories had been working on it…

A White House official said Tuesday that the Energy Department “doesn’t have jurisdiction over the oil spill.” Dr. Chu — who, according to an Energy Department news release was in Houston on Tuesday “to continue engagement on strategies to stop the oil spill” — is “just volunteering because he’s one of the most brilliant scientists around,” the official said. Dr. Chu canceled a trip to China in order to deal with the crisis, the Energy Department said.

How noble of him.

On May 12, Mr. Obama sent Dr. Chu to BP’s command center in Houston to meet with top engineers and scientists. After meeting with BP, Dr. Chu told reporters that he believed that “things are looking up,” and that he felt “more comfortable than I was a week ago” with progress toward containment. Along with Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, whose department has jurisdiction over the spill, Dr. Chu appeared beside Mr. Obama in the Rose Garden the next day as Mr. Obama angrily assailed the three companies involved in the oil spill.

No one has accused Dr. Chu or Dr. Koonin of direct conflict of interest or questioned their scientific credentials

Isn’t it weird? A 1,137 word article about BP’s ties to the Obama administration and there is not one word about how Mr. Obama is the biggest recipient of BP’s political contributions?

Surely that is an unintentional oversight on the part of the New York Times. And not journalistic malpractice.

This article was posted by Steve on Sunday, May 30th, 2010. Comments are currently closed.

3 Responses to “BP’s Ties To Obama Are Long, Complex”

  1. confucius says:

    I wonder what bobgoodson is doing right now.

  2. Liberals Demise says:

    A friend of mine who is a Navy submariner once told me, “Never mind the ships you can see on the surface. It is what lies beneath that you don’t see that will destroy you.”

    How true these pearls of wisdom.

  3. canary says:

    Dr. Chu & Dr. Koonin perfect experts to cover up BP. Dr. Chu & Dr. Koonin, are only volunteering for free so the Justice Dept can use them as expert witnesses when they don’t sue the government officials like Salazar & and whoever told Salazar to proceed drilling without following stiff regulations & examinations.

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