BP Controlling University Research, and Professor Who Downplayed Oil Spill Called a “Shill” By Fellow Professor

LSU professor and oil spill expert Ed Overton has been all over the news saying that fears of the BP oil spill were overblown.

But as Raw Story reports, Overton has been a lead NOAA consultant for decades, and a fellow LSU professor calls him a “shill”:

Overton’s prominent position as the chief chemist and principal architect of NOAA’s Hazardous Materials Response Division dating back to the early eighties, along with his tendency to provide rosier-than-average assessments of the effects of the Gulf oil spill since the catastrophe began –- opinions often in line with those of BP, NOAA and other federal officials –- have raised questions about the omission of his contracting work and the scientific objectivity of his public statements.

Additionally, as professor emeritus, Overton confirmed to Raw Story that he officially retired from LSU and no longer receives a salary from the university; all his income tied to his university association since May 2009 has come through grants and contracts, and mostly through his work for NOAA. The latest NOAA funding for his work was a $1.3 million five-year grant.

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A fellow senior sciences professor at Overton’s own LSU, also noted that Overton “does not appear to be an unbiased source of information” and found it laughable that the head of NOAA’s chemical hazard assessment team is purporting to provide public comments as an “independent scientist.”

The LSU professor, who spoke with Raw Story on condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation by the university, explained, “The issue is that everybody who is involved in investigating this event and its effects needs to be upfront and honest about the sources of funding that they receive.”

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I think that Dr. Overton comes across as being an industry shill,” the professor offered bluntly. “He has never said anything that was not in favor of what the industry was saying and continued to minimize the effects from day one about how bad this spill and its effects would be.”

Raw Story also notes that BP is controlling what LSU researches:

Raw Story also found that, while all studies performed by the university will be scientifically peer-reviewed, BP decides what areas LSU will research.

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