Florida Marine Research Group Gets $10 Million from BP to Study Oil Spill’s Effects

The Florida Institute of Oceanography – a little known marine science consortium making big news with its research – will receive $10 million from BP to study the effects of the Deep Water Horizon oil spill.

(From The Palm Beach Post / by Christine Stapleton) — “We are very pleased to begin addressing the immediate needs of assessing the impact on the state of Florida,” William Hogarth, acting director of the institute, said in a news release.

The institute – a consortium of 20 universities, research groups and agencies in Florida – is based at the University of South Florida and has two research vessels, the 115-foot Weatherbird and the 71-foot Bellows. Its research has shown plumes of oil from the spill exist under water, something BP has denied.

BP also awarded $5 million to Louisiana State University and $10 million to the Northern Gulf Institute, a consortium led by Mississippi State University.

The money is part of $500 million BP pledged over 10 years for independent research into the effects of the spill. Gov. Charlie Crist sought $100 million for the Florida institute.

Tuesday’s announcement came 12 days after a contentious meeting in Louisiana in which some scientists accused BP of trying to control the research by selecting the research topics and the members of an advisory committee that would select the institutions to oversee the money and research.

In its news release, BP did not mention the topics to be studied, but did name four members of the advisory committee.

Two members have ties to a San Francisco company linked to the head of the group that sponsored the Louisiana meeting. Robert Gagosian, a board member of Climos, is president of the sponsoring group, Consortium for Ocean Leadership.

Appointed to the advisory board were Dr. Rita Colwell, a member of Climos’ science advisory board, and Dr. Margaret Leinen, Climate Response Fund CEO and mother of Climos founder Dan Whaley. Climos seeks to remove carbon from the atmosphere by fertilizing oceans with iron so more phytoplankton will grow and absorb carbon dioxide.

Climos was started with financing from Braemar Venture Capital, on whose board sits David Fitzsimmons – former CEO of BP’s international oil trading business, president of BP Asia and commercial director responsible for BP’s gas, power and renewable business.

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