Oil and Rigorous Science Just Don't Mix

A National Cancer Institute study found that "workers exposed to average levels of benzene" were four times more likely to develop cancer. Benzene is a component of gasoline, so tighter regulations would have "an impact on gasoline production," said a former Mobil Oil toxicologist. So, BP, Chevron Texaco, ConocoPhillips, Exxon Mobil and Shell Chemical raised $27 million to carry out their own benzene study, under the American Petroleum Institute. Although their research won't be completed until 2007, information from "depositions, proposals to oil companies and other documents collected by a Houston law firm in unrelated lawsuits" suggests "the results of the study already have been predicted." An independent toxicologist called parts of the oil companies' study "scientifically inappropriate" and said the researchers seemed to be "promising a result in advance." The data could also be quashed, at the request of two-thirds of the funding oil companies.