Right-wing media are absurdly attacking Energy Secretary Steven Chu's past praise of BP for awarding UC Berkley an alternative energy grant which Chu said would help "save the world." But the grant had bipartisan support, and scientists and university professors praised the grant's importance for alternative energy research aimed at weaning the world off of oil.
Right-wing media seize on video of Chu saying BP was helping to "save the world"
Chu: BP grant gives us "resources to actually carry out some of the things we want to do in order to help save the world." The conservative blog Verum Serum posted a YouTube video of Chu, who was then director of the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab, discussing the $500 million grant, which UC Berkeley used to launch the Energy Biosciences Institute. In the video, Chu states: "This is a great opportunity. There's been a lot excitement that's been growing over the last several years, and now with -- partnering with BP, we will have the resources to actually carry out some of the things we want to do in order to help save the world."
Verum Serum: "Do you think NOBEL LAUREATE (and Secretary of Energy) Steven Chu still thinks BP is going to help save the world?" In a blog post, Morgen at Verum Serum wrote: "[I]t turns out that a key Administration official had his head inserted somewhere else just three short years ago. Do you think NOBEL LAUREATE (and Secretary of Energy) Steven Chu still thinks BP is going to help save the world?" Morgen also wrote that Chu had a "cozy" relationship with BP and baselessly suggested that the Obama administration is soft on BP because of it:
My guess is that this history -- and these relationships -- played a part in the Administration's initial confusion over whether BP was a "partner" in the effort to resolve the Gulf spill. Because for many within the Administration BP had been one of the "good guys".
This also explains why BP has been so willing to prostrate themselves in front of their Democratic overlords in Congress and the White House. Here they thought they were trusted partners in saving the world from impending climate disaster. It turns out that their allies in the Obama Administration might soon be the only thing saving BP from the anger of a raging public...and insolvency.
Breitbart TV: "Obama's energy secretary in 2007: BP will 'help save the world.' " Breitbart.tv posted the YouTube video from Verum Serum under the headline, "Obama's energy secretary in 2007: BP will 'help save the world.' "
Ace of Spades: Administration "can say they're permitting BP to do drilling because, oh, look, the Energy Biosciences Institute." The conservative blog Ace of Spades HQ linked to the video and wrote: "Beyond Petroleum, baby. This is about a BP venture called 'Energy Biosciences Institute.' ... Amazing what happens when a company starts diverting precious resources of money, attention, and IQ to projects beyond its core competency in order to placate fantasists who think we shouldn't be using oil." The post also suggested the project influenced how President Obama and Chu dealt with BP in the wake of the spill:
By the Way: This sort of corruption is always going on, whereby politicians strongly suggest to corporations that they start diverting money away from their actual operations into ultra vires (beyond the corporate charter's stated goals) flights of fancy. It's akin to bribery, except instead of paying off a politician with cold hard cash they pay him off in political capital.
A Stephen Chu or President Present is thus enabled to avoid making realistic choices based on real life information -- decisions he doesn't want to make, like accepting petroleum is the economic lifeblood of the world and will be for another 40 years, at least -- because it gives them some bullshit-bullshit cover. They can say they're permitting BP to do drilling because, oh, look, the Energy Biosciences Institute.
Hot Air: "It's almost a shame Chu's not a Republican: Imagine how much fun the media would have had with it then." On the conservative blog Hot Air, Allahpundit linked to the video and wrote: "So darkly amusing is this that it's almost a shame Chu's not a Republican: Imagine how much fun the media would have had with it then":
So darkly amusing is this that it's almost a shame Chu's not a Republican: Imagine how much fun the media would have had with it then. Credit Verum Serum for rescuing it from the memory hole to remind the world what a sad joke in hindsight BP's green posturing was. They spent years showering cash on guys like this (and Obama, of course) in return for positive PR that would hopefully keep environmentalists off their back; then they turned around and ran their gulf rig to the point of detonation long after they knew there were major problems with it, taking care to ignore federal law about blowout preventers -- the last line of defense against a catastrophic spill -- in the process. What happens when a "dirty energy" company tries too hard to get "clean"?
Grant funded Energy Biosciences Institute to conduct research to get the U.S. off oil
EBI researchers "setting forth in a colossal search for new breakthroughs that will lead to sustainable, clean fuel sources." The Energy Biosciences Institute states that "partners in the Institute are setting forth in a colossal search for new breakthroughs that will lead to sustainable, clean fuel sources, like non-food crops from which biofuels can be made." Its director, Chris Somerville, notes: "Our mission is to harness the potential of bioenergy, to make discoveries and commercialize realities out of these, which could benefit the world."
EBI currently has 300 employees and 68 projects researching in biofuels. A May 7 EBI press release stated that "[n]ine programs and projects were added to the portfolio of research comprising the Energy Biosciences Institute (EBI) in 2009 and another eight were funded in 2010, bringing the total number of investigations funded as of the third year of EBI operations to 68." It continued:
Research is being pursued in five categories related to applying bioscience and biotechnology techniques to the energy industry, in particular exploring the opportunities for production of cellulosic biofuels.
The San Francisco Chronicle reported June 18 that EBI currently employs 300 researchers.
Grant had bipartisan support, scientist support
Schwarzenegger: "Excited" and "proud" of BP's involvement. At a news conference launching the program in February 2007, Republican Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger stated: "I can't tell you how excited I am that BP has chosen UC Berkeley and California for its new $500 Million Energy Biosciences Institute. This is great news for California. This is great news for America, because it is the world's first research lab dedicated to long-term productions of alternative fuels." Schwarzenegger's press release also said, "I'm proud that the private sector has once again recognized the world-class stature of the University of California and our state's unshakeable commitment to transforming to a clean energy future in an economy-boosting manner."
Schwarzenegger noted the importance of bipartisan support for the program. During his remarks, Schwarzenegger also said, "It's also great to have so many dignitaries here and to have bipartisan support, which is very important. Think about that. It's an environmental issue and we have Republicans and Democrats sitting here. Isn't it great? I mean, I'm very ecstatic about that. Things are happening in this state." The San Francisco Chronicle also reported there was "a bipartisan contingent of state lawmakers" at the news conference.
UC Berkeley chancellor: "This is our generation's moon shot." A February 2, 2007, San Francisco Chronicle article quoted UC Berkeley Chancellor Robert Birgeneau, who is also a professor of physics and of science and engineering, as saying, "This is our generation's moon shot."
University of Illinois researcher: "We're here to launch a new age for agriculture, altering the energy economy of the planet." The Chronicle article also quoted Charles Zukoski, vice chancellor for research at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign -- which also received a portion of the grant - as saying, "We're here to launch a new age for agriculture, altering the energy economy of the planet."
Dartmouth professor: "It is exciting the way biotechnology is taking off." The Chicago Tribune reported on February 2, 2007, that Lee Lynd, an environmental engineering professor at Dartmouth "said that if the research is successful, it could significantly increase energy supplies." Lynd is quoted as saying, "These are all big ideas. ... It is exciting the way biotechnology is taking off." (article accessed via Nexis)