Smithsonian regents say oil money could taint oceans exhibit

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The Smithsonian Institution’s governing board has taken the unusual step of putting a $5 million donation on hold over worries that money from the oil industry could taint a major program on the world’s oceans.

Senator Patrick Leahy and longtime Smithsonian regent Roger Sant objected to the donation from the American Petroleum Institute.

Sant says he wants to make sure the donor’s behavior is consistent with the message the Smithsonian is trying to deliver. He says it wouldn’t be a problem if the donation weren’t so closely tied to an environmental program.

Sant is the largest donor for the "Ocean Initiative,” with a $10 million gift. An Ocean Hall is slated to open at the National Museum of Natural History in late 2008, along with a multimedia Web site.

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