Scientists forced to turn over emails related to BP oil spill

SkyTruth/Creative Commons

The Guardian reports today that two scientists “have accused BP of an attack on academic freedom after the oil company successfully subpoenaed thousands of confidential emails related to research on the Gulf of Mexico oil disaster.”

The accusation comes from oceanographers Richard Camilli and Christopher Reddy of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts.

Read the whole article here: BP accused of attack on academic freedoms after scientists subpoenaed

In an opinion piece in the Boston GlobeScience out of context, Camilli and Reddy write:

Late last week, we reluctantly handed over more than 3,000 confidential e-mails to BP, as part of a subpoena from the oil company demanding access to them because of the Deepwater Horizon disaster lawsuit brought by the US government. We are accused of no crimes, nor are we party to the lawsuit. We are two scientists at an academic research institution who responded to requests for help from BP and government officials at a time of crisis.

Because there are insufficient laws and legal precedent to shield independent scientific researchers, BP was able to use the federal courts to gain access to our private information. Although the presiding judge magistrate recognized the need to protect confidential e-mails to avoid deterring future research, she granted BP’s request.

What next? A judge recognizes that seizing the private correspondence of scientists can impact further research, yet she orders the emails turned over to BP anyway.

This is the latest in a troubling trend of corporate and corporate-backed attacks on science (read more at Defend Science). Oil rules.


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