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More On Irving Oil

Norwich resident Robert Spottswood has contributed a letter to the Valley News that sheds further light on the Irving Oil company:

Irving Oil and Academics

After your good story last month (“Dartmouth Unveils New Institute,” Sept. 17) about Dartmouth’s plans to build the Arthur L. Irving Institute for Energy and Society, using $80 million of Irving Oil’s money, I was interested enough to look for more. Some follow-up letters to the Valley News had expressed alarm about the potential for conflict when an academic “Institute for Energy and Society” is funded by a major oil company.

Those writers may be further informed by a six-part online investigative report on the Irvings’ behavior in their native Canada. (The billionaire Irving family, with giant oil, pipeline, refinery, paper, lumber and newspaper holdings, are based north of Maine, in New Brunswick) See

Of particular interest is the fourth part, titled “How the Irvings intimidate their critics,” with a subsection “Going after New Brunswick academics.” See

This reminded me of how academic intimidation need be neither overt nor illegal to be effective. Thank you again for your Sept. 17 article.

Robert Spottswood, Norwich

In a recent meeting with important alumni donors, Phil Hanlon noted that the Irving project had elicited the “expected opposition” — but he was unable to make an argument as to how the College and the energy center would be able to insulate itself from influence by aggressive actors like Irving Oil and its leaders.

Addendum: More than a few observers have been surprised at how weak and plodding Phil is in debate. He seems to have little capacity to think abstractly and to develop positions based on first principles.


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