Tuesday, June 18, 2013
Scientist Under Investigation After Polar Bear Study
Wildlife biologist Charles Monnett was indefinitely suspended from his job last week pending an investigation about his scientific integrity.
A national group of public employees has filed a complaint against the U.S. Interior Department for what it says is the “professional house arrest” of an Alaska-based scientist who wrote a report on dead polar bears published five years ago.
Wildlife biologist Charles Monnett of the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, Regulation and enforcement, was indefinitely suspended from his job last week pending an investigation about his scientific integrity.
The issue concerns his observation during an aerial survey in 2004 of four polar bears that apparently had drowned while swimming long distances without ice.
Monnett's later peer-reviewed article on those bears was published in a scientific journal in 2006.
The group Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, based in Washington, D.C., has filed a complaint, saying that the treatment of Monnett conflicts with new Obama administration regulations on keeping scientists free of political pressure.
"There's no stated allegations. We've likened it to the Keystone Cops meeting Bill Nye, the science guy. So there's no process, so there's no charges, there's no timeline, there's no nothing. All we know is that a senior scientist who's supervising all this research is told to go home and is forbidden from even communicating with any of his colleagues,” said Jeff Ruch of Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility.
A local spokesman for the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management declined comment, citing a personnel matter that is under investigation.
An Alaskan blogger is alleging that the president is trying to win political campaign contributions from Shell Oil, which wants to drill in the Outer Continental Shelf.