Particpant Prods. is offering 50,000 copies of the Al Gore doc “An Inconvenient Truth” for free to school teachers across the country. It follows a highly publicized brouhaha in the past few weeks in which the National Science Teachers Assn. declined to accept the copies to distribute to its members, saying that it would violate a policy of not endorsing a product.

But in an editorial in the Washington Post and in an entry on her Huffington Post blog, “An Inconvenient Truth” executive producer Laurie David said that the Science Teachers Assn. also had expressed concerns over what impact accepting the offer would have on other funders. She pointed out that among the supporters of the association are ExxonMobil and Shell Oil, as well as the American Petroleum Institute. She added that the association distributed a video by the American Petroleum Institute called “You Can’t Be Cool Without Fuel,” “a shameless pitch for oil dependence.”

“A petroleum institute memo leaked to the media as long ago as 1998 succintly explains why the institute is angling to infiltrate the classroom: ‘Informing teachers/students about uncertainties in climate science will begin to erect barriers against further efforts to impose Kyoto-like measures in the future,'” David wrote. 

But in a rebuttal, the association says that total support from energy companies is 3.77% of its budget, and that the NSTA is “solely responsible for developing, directing and implementing the programs we offer to teachers.” They add further that they no longer partner with the American Petroleum Institute, and can find no record of “having a role in the development or mass distribution of the video.”

The NSTA did offer to link to a site where teachers could obtain a free copy, among other ways of promoting the DVD, but Participant has set up this disbursement on their own. They will be available through Jan. 18, 2007 on a first come, first served basis at www.participate.net, with the major requirement being that teachers provide their school’s tax ID number.