WASHINGTON–(ENEWSPF)–August 26, 2011. A top federal Arctic scientist is returning to work today after six weeks on administrative leave without any charges being leveled against him, according to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER). Meanwhile, the agency which suspended the scientist is itself under investigation for mishandling the matter.
On July 18, 2011, the Bureau of Ocean Energy, Management, Regulation and Enforcement (BOEM) suspended Dr. Charles Monnett in connection with an ongoing Interior Department Office of Inspector General (IG) investigation. The IG was probing both a 2006 paper written by Dr. Monnett and a colleague on drowning polar bears as well as approval of a 2005 joint U.S.-Canadian polar bear study. During his paid leave, he was forbidden from doing any work, speaking to colleagues or entering any Interior offices.
The leave was ordered by BOEM Director Michael Bromwich who reversed himself after the agency was informed that its top officials, including Bromwich, are now under investigation by Interior’s Scientific Integrity Officer for breaking new departmental scientific integrity rules designed to protect researchers from political interference as alleged in a PEER complaint filed on Dr. Monnett’s behalf.
“This about-face shows Director Bromwich made yet another hasty, ill-considered decision which had to be walked back,” stated PEER Executive Director Jeff Ruch, noting that, on August 1, BOEM similarly had to rescind a stop-work order it issued to Canadian researchers. “Dr. Monnett is owed an apology.”
Even as its case against Dr. Monnett appears to implode, the IG continues to expand its investigation into BOEM management: