What does it buy? Corporate money in the public till University of Texas at Austin president Lorene Rogers recently accepted [$125,000] presented by officials of the Exxon USA Foundation . . . to be used by UT’s Center for Energy Studies. University of Texas press release Exxon USA Foundation? Center for Energy Studies? $125,000? Who are these people, and what are they doing with all that money? Simple. Exxon is giving money to the University of Texas to conduct energy research. In fact, the $125,000 grant is merely the first installment of a threeyear, $400,000 commitment. And Exxon is not the only energy giant bankrolling CES. CES coordinates most of UT’s energy work and gives overall focus to research and teaching programs carried on throughout the campus. CES draws from 32 academic departments, has 53 faculty members directly involved in its work, and supports the research efforts of 155 students. No small outfit. It is systematized, interdisciplinary, and interfaced. \(Words like that are used a lot at three years now, expanding all the while. Some $5.6 million worth of research has been completed, is underway, or will be finished by 1979. This year, CES has more than $2 million to spend. The money comes from several sources. First of all, CES is a line item in UT’s legislative budget, drawing an annual $100,000. Second, it gets $125,000 this year from something called “the available fund” of the university, which apparently is a kitty for general operating expenses. With this base, CES staffers go after bigger moneya process they call “leveraging.” It is from leveragees that the bulk of operating funds came this academic year, about $1.8 million. Some 80 percent of this outside money comes from a network of federal grantors \(ERDA, NSF, FEA, NAD NASA, and NASAtrust us on all these initials Advisory Council and other state and local governments. That brings us to Exxon USA and friends. Private energy firms kick in roughly a fifth of the CES budget \(see There’s more corporate involvement than the $1 million suggests. A group 14 The Texas Observer called Electric Power Research Institute is on the CES grant sheets for $507,000 in contributions since 1974 that have unstruction, testing, and installation of a new generator used in energy storage for of a new method of radioactive waste integrated plan for EPRI research. EPRI is the research arm of the nation’s private utilities. It was established CENTER FOR ENERGY STUDIES THE UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS AT AUSTIN three years ago and contracts for millions of dollars of research annually. Most private utilities in Texas are members and contribute to it. So EPRI money represents more corporate money in the till. In sum, about 28 percent of the $5.6 million spent by CES since 1974 comes from corporations. That’s a substantial figure. Does it matter? Does it buy the energy industry a say in the course and conduct of CES research? Cliff Drummond, director of liaison for CES, argues strongly that it does not: “Generally, these grants come without restrictions on their use. While the work we do on their money could impact them at some point, they don’t tell us what to do with it, except to say Corporate grants Corporation Amount Celanese Co.Houston $21,000 Enserch Corp. \(Lone Star Gas 21,000 Texas Power & LightDallas … 21,000 Dow ChemicalHouston 21,000 Texas Electric Service Co. Fort Worth 150,000 Gulf States Utilities Co. Beaumont 75,000 Central Power & Light Co. Corpus Christi 150,000 Southern Union Gas Co 3,000 Exxon USAHouston 400,000 General Electric Foundation 80,000 Texas UtilitiesDallas 10,000 United Gas Pipeline Co. Houston 99,000 Total: $1,051,000 what broad area of research they want it to be in. CES is not associated with research of a commercial or proprietary nature. Take the Exxon grantthe studies we are doing on energy policies is not being done to benefit Exxon or any company; the reports we do will be in the public domain, available to Exxon’s competitors and everybody.” When asked directly if CES officials considered it a conflict of interest to take energy research money from the industry, Drummond said: “We worry about this quite a lot around here; we’re sensitive to it. Credibility is the most valuable piece of currency researchers have. Otherwise, they’re hired guns. I don’t think we’re hired guns.” But why take their money at all? For one thing, says Drummond, the CES budget needs it. Secondly, he says it is “instructive for researchers and academics to have a relationship with those dealing with these problems dailywe need to know what they think, what’s important.” Drummond also thought it was good for private companies to be contributing their own resources back to the public, to institutions like CES. “Corporate responsibility,” he called it. Bob MacDonald also thinks of it like that. He’s Exxon USA’s planning manager for public affairs in Houston. “Not enough of the sound thinkers are really working the energy problem,” MacDonald told the Observer, “so we felt we should make some grants to help out on energy policy.” He said Exxon looked for places to spend energy research to CES since 1974 Research Funded Study of the burning characteristics of Texas lignites A series of geothermal studies Attitudinal study of natural gas users in Texas, New Mexico, and Arizona Energy policy studies General support Study of the feasibility of slurrying coal in methyl alcohol Studies of most effective way to extract natural gas from geothermal sands and waters
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