A BP-backed $500 million biofuels research institute at the University of California, Berkeley, escalated the controversy over for-profit ownership of academic research. The UC Regents met March 13 partly to discuss the growing tension between faculty and students and the proposed biofuels facility, funded by private oil company money. In a March 12 letter to university regents and Lieutenant Governor John Garamendi, the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights requested that the university avoid allowing BP to claim public relations benefits from its grant. The university also released a detailed outline of the proposed Energy Biosciences Institute. University staff and students continue to meet to publicly discuss the issue of potential impacts on the stated mission of advancing the biofuels as an alternative to fossil fuel. In its letter this week, the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights invoked a similar deal between Stanford and ExxonMobil, where the oil company contributed $100 million to the university's Global Climate and Energy Project. ExxonMobil subsequently used the association in a public relations campaign. The group asked Berkeley regents and the lieutenant governor to avoid allowing any corporation to "set the entire research agenda." "The University of California must not allow itself to be, as Stanford has become, a greenwash for one of the world's largest oil companies," wrote FTCR president Jamie Court. BP did not reply to repeated requests for comment. The details of the proposed biofuels facility made public by the Regents specified that "The Energy Biosciences Institute (EBI) is not to be just another research institute, but rather an extraordinary marshaling of human and infrastructure resources for the purpose of inventing and developing technologies that will address the energy needs of our global community. The Institute will assemble teams of scientists that will seek total-system solutions to the production of biofuels that are cost effective and carbon neutral. The EBI will create the next generation of scientists deeply knowledgeable in all areas of bioenergy and committed to the vision of the EBI, and will serve as a model for the type of large-scale academic-industry partnerships that will play an increasingly important role in solving the major global problems of the 21st century." The Regents added, "BP's extensive research and technology expertise and business-industry leadership will strongly differentiate the EBI from other primarily academic research enterprises." A senior faculty member at the university, who asked for anonymity, said that while he was against the deal, methods of funding research are changing. Grants from nonprofit foundations are drying up, he noted, adding that perhaps the only way for academics to get funding for pure research is to turn to capital from corporations.