greenThe hot topic in campus energy research news is predictably the BP partnership and what it means in the wake of the oil spill.

Michael Hiltzik of the LA Times mused as to why there has been “no campus protest over Berkeley-BP connection,” which of course is completely untrue.

We’re pretty confident in saying we’ve attended more recent UC Berkeley campus protests than Hiltzik, and there has been plenty of outcry ever since the deal was penned. Reading the article, it seems want he was really trying to say was, “Why is there no campus protest now?” To which we respond: Everyone’s on summer vacation. read more »


Oh, the oil crisis. Perhaps it’s best summed up by Stephen Colbert’s joke that the hottest Christmas gift this December will be a “clean-it-yourself egret.” And even forgetting the poor pelicans for a moment, this spill has led people to scrutinize oil giant BP for its questionable safety regulations. So let’s all take a deep breath while we remember that BP funds UCB’s very own Energy Biosciences Institute.

Naturally, this fact raises some eyebrows. BP pledged $500 million to the institute, read more »

This doesn’t warrant a Nuclear-Free Protest Bell post because there’s not a whole lot protesters can do now that the university officially signed the heavily disputed $500 million alternative energy research deal with BP earlier this week. Nevertheless, we thought we’d share our latest crankypants attitude about the critics who’ve got it all wrong.

  • The writing’s on the wall. We’ve all seen the scribbled bathroom stall “END CORPORATE IMPERIALISM–SAY NO TO BP DEAL” messages which seem to go nicely with the “Does he really love me?” and the “Stop writing on the bathroom walls! Take care of the Earth!” notes.

    Clearly, bathroom-stall writing is effective on all fronts. “Corporate imperialism” has won, he probably doesn’t love you if you have to ask and imploring bathroom walls to stop writing on themselves simply won’t work.

  • The protests didn’t work either. If anything, they called attention to the pitfalls of the early drafts of the BP contract, the later drafts of which, in our completely uneducated opinion, probably encouraged greater accountability and academic freedom that ultimately allowed the various legal staffs of the University of California to approve the final version.

Still, some remain cautious about who does what where and when. We see no problem with criticizing details that make or break a transparent contract, but it is with the bathroom-wallers of the world out there that we take issue. Calling the Energy Biosciences Institute “corporate imperialism” merely because the partnering institution happens to be a corporation gives as much credibility to the critic as it does to the toilet stall it was written on.

UC Berkeley Officially Signs $500 Million Partnership with Energy Giant BP [Daily Cal]
It’s a Dealbreaker [Daily Cal]
UC Berkeley, BP finally sign contract for research project [SF Gate]

Remember that totally sweet deal UC scored with BP? The one about funding for alternative energy research? We thought it was pretty awesome.

We changed our minds. It looks like the Academic Senate won’t have any say in the plans for collaboration with BP. One professor even doubts the Senate will see preview of the contract. Kinda shady if you ask us. Research on our turf and with our equipment and they’re giving the cold shoulder to one of our governing bodies? Sounds like someone still hasn’t gotten enough sexy time.

If you ask us, though, the planned lab work looks to be damn sexy.

Termite hotness XXX! (We told you it was sexy.) By harnessing the power of the sun, The Helios Project will take microbes from termite guts (what exactly constitutes guts anyway?) to digest plant matter and produce ethanol for fuel. It’s been called a “centerpiece for the next 20 years.”

We’ve certainly seen no centerpiece like that.

UC Academics Excluded From BP Contract Vote [Berkeley Daily Planet]