Watchdog says merit of polar bear paper questioned - CNBC
JUNEAU, Alaska - The federal investigation into suspended wildlife biologist Charles Monnett has focused on the scientific merit of a 2006 article in which he and a colleague recorded their observations of apparently drowned polar bears in the Arctic, a watchdog group said Tuesday.Flashback: Polar Bear Science and the Spin Cycle - NYTimes.com
Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility said Monnett was interviewed by the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy, Management, Regulation and Enforcement's inspector general's office on Tuesday.
PEER executive director Jeff Ruch said that Tuesday's nearly three-hour long interview revolved around the article and the project, including Monnett's role during procurement.
Ruch, who monitored the interview via teleconference, said Monnett was also asked about any connections he had to non-governmental organizations and fundraising for environmental groups.
He said the suggestion was raised that Monnett was somehow involved in a covert campaign to promote the issue of climate change. Ruch said it could be several weeks before a transcript is available.
I queried the White House and Department of Interior and officials sought to puncture the assertions by all of those mentioned above. The most succinct reply came from Melissa Schwartz, the deputy chief of staff and communications director for the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management:The agency placed Mr. Monnett on administrative leave for reasons having nothing to do with scientific integrity, his 2006 journal article, or issues related to permitting, as has been alleged. Any suggestions or speculation to the contrary are wrong.Her statement doesn’t mesh well with the transcript of one of the investigative interviews conducted with Monnett in February — which goes through page after page of questioning on swimming and dead polar bears and statistics.