Boston Legal may not have racked up impressive numbers (about a million fewer than last year at 10.3) for its fourth season premiere Tuesday night, but its season-opening episode got the nod from the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR).  The FTCR commended the program for bringing to light issues concerning Big Oil’s ever-increasing sway with a growing number of prominent colleges and ivy league universities in the U.S.

In Boston Legal‘s Tuesday night season opener, Candace Bergen’s character, Shirley Schmidt of Crane, Poole & Schmidt, faced a lawsuit after withdrawing her $3 million pledge to Stanford University’s alternative energy research program.  Schmidt pulled out of the promised contribution after discovering that the academy had also accepted $100 million from oil giant, ExxonMobil.  The episode also made references to ExxonMobil’s donations to ivy league Princeton and its $500 million agreement with Berkeley.

“The show was extremely timely and relevant,” John M. Simpson, consumer advocate for the FTCR remarked about Boston Legal.  “It highlighted the very real dangers of Big Oil U just as the contract between BP and UC Berkeley for the $500 million Energy Biosciences Institute is about to be settled.”

“The problem with these programs is that cash-strapped universities are selling out academic freedom and becoming extension campuses of Big Oil U,” Simpson elaborated.  “The public used to turn to universities for unbiased research and truth.  Without safeguards, research agendas will be set to match vested corporate interests and the corporations will control the rights to any patented inventions.”

Aside from Berkeley, other institutions of higher learning that have benefited from Big Oil cash infusions are Stanford, which received $100 million from ExxonMobil for its Global Climate and Energy Project, UC Davis, which got $25 million from Chevron for its Bioenergy Research Group, Iowa State with $22.5 million from ConocoPhillips, Princeton’s Carbon Mitigation Initiative which got $15 million from BP, Stanford again with the $7.5 million from BP Foundation for the school’s Program on Energy and Sustainable Development, Georgia Tech Strategic Energy Institute with Chevron’s $12 million contribution and Duke University’s Climate Change Policy, which received $12 million from ConocoPhillips.

“Big Oil has an image problem,” Simpson stressed.  “We simply cannot allow them to fix it by turning our respected colleges and universities into ‘Big Oil U.'”

-Rosario Santiago, BuddyTV Staff Columnist
Source: PR Newswire


Staff Columnist, BuddyTV