July 20, 2017

Department of Interior Scientist Demoted for Whistleblowing on Climate Change

By the C|C Whistleblower Lawyer Team

Joel Clement, a scientist and former director of the Interior Department’s Office of Policy Analysis, was recently reassigned to an Interior Department accounting office. Clement believes he was punished for speaking about the dangers climate change poses to Alaskan Native Communities. In a Washington Post op-ed, Clement accused the administration of choosing “silence over science.”

In his former role, Clement advised the Obama administration on Arctic issues, and warned that the Artic is warming faster than any other part of the world. In the months preceding his reassignment, Clement raised issues of coastal erosion, loss of wildlife habitats, and threats to Arctic ecosystem instability to White House official and senior DOI officials. Then, on June 15, Clement and about 50 other people received involuntary reassignments within the DOI, he now works at an office which collects royalty checks from oil companies, he has no financial expertise.

Days before Clement’s reassignment, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke testified that reassignments would be used as part of an effort to eliminate employees, hoping that employees would quit after undesirable transfers. Clement believes he received a reassignment to a position that he is seemingly unqualified for in hopes he would leave the Federal Government. This week, Clement filed a complaint with the Office of Special Counsel, alleging that his reassignment was retaliatory.

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