Reporting from Washington — BP and the governors of the five Gulf Coast states announced plans Wednesday to funnel a promised $500 million in research funds through an organization run by the governors, not the nation's scientific community.
As word leaked out before the announcement that politicians would have considerable control over the BP research money, scientists voiced fears that most of the grants would be doled out to institutions in the governors' home states, raising the possibility of pork-barrel projects.
The announcement sought to allay such concerns: "Independent scientific research will be conducted at academic institutions primarily in the U.S. Gulf Coast states. However, appropriate partnerships with institutions based outside the U.S. gulf region will be welcome."
It remains unclear if research organizations outside the Gulf Coast, such as the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution in Massachusetts and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography in California, will be permitted to apply for grants on their own or will have to link up with local scientists.