Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Nonprofit Conservation Group Has Ties to Oil Interests, Gulf Oil Spill

(The nonprofit Gulf of Mexico Foundation, cited in a New York Times story about the BP oil spill, has strong industry ties. One of their board members, Dr. Ian Hudson, (pictured), is an executive at the company that owns the Gulf oil rig that exploded.)

The ProPublica Blog
by Marian Wang, ProPublica - May 4, 2010 1:21 pm EDT

"This post has been updated [1].

With crude oil pouring into the Gulf of Mexico every day, the conventional wisdom about last month’s explosion and spill has been that this is an environmental disaster of unpredictable scale. The New York Times, in a story published today on Page One [2], challenged this conventional wisdom by citing several experts. One of those was from a nonprofit group called the Gulf of Mexico Foundation:

“The sky is not falling,” said Quenton R. Dokken [3], a marine biologist and the executive director of the Gulf of Mexico Foundation, a conservation group in Corpus Christi, Tex. “We’ve certainly stepped in a hole and we’re going to have to work ourselves out of it, but it isn’t the end of the Gulf of Mexico.”

The Times doesn’t offer any more information about the foundation. So we decided to poke around. The Gulf of Mexico Foundation [4]‘s website says it was “founded in 1990 by citizens concerned with the health and productivity of the Gulf of Mexico.” Its site shows it has sponsored conservation and educational programs and partnered with the likes of the Environmental Protection Agency and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The site also says the group represents a “wide range of interests,” including “agriculture, business, fisheries, industry, tourism, and the environment.”

But as it turns out, industry appears to be the most represented of those interests.

At least half of the 19 members of the group’s board of directors [5] have direct ties to the offshore drilling industry. One of them is currently an executive at Transocean, the company that owns the Deepwater Horizon rig that exploded last month, causing millions of gallons of oil to spill into the Gulf of Mexico.

Seven other board members are currently employed at oil companies, or at companies that provide products and services “primarily” to the offshore oil and gas industry. Those companies include Shell, Conoco Phillips, LLOG Exploration Company, Devon Energy, Anadarko Petroleum Company and Oceaneering International.

The Gulf of Mexico Foundation’s president is a retired senior vice president of Rowan Companies Inc., an offshore drilling contractor.

Meanwhile, Transocean hosted the group’s winter board meeting in January and sponsored a dinner for the board of directors. Past board meetings have been hosted in full or in part by Anadarko Petroleum Company, Shell Exploration and Production, Valero Refinery and Marathon Oil Corporation.

We have reached out to the Gulf of Mexico Foundation to ask about its ties to industry, but have yet to receive a response. We’ve also called Transocean for comment and are reaching out to the New York Times reporters who wrote the original piece citing the Foundation."

Update I: (More)>>>>

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