This “Whistleblower Spotlight” features Joel Clement, a scientist and former director of the Interior Department’s Office of Policy Analysis, who was reassigned last summer to an Interior Department accounting office after blowing the whistle on climate change. Clement believes he was retaliated against for speaking about the dangers climate change poses to Alaskan Native Communities and accusing the Trump 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. Shortly thereafter, Clement was reassigned without notice to be a senior adviser at the department’s Office of Natural Resources Revenue — a position he labeled an accounting job.
Just 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. And indeed, after three months, Clement resigned after losing all hope things would change.
Clement told CNN “it was a really difficult decision. I felt strongly about serving in the civil service, and it’s really hard to leave, but Secretary Zinke is really acting against all of the issues that are important to the health and safety of Americans and natural resources.” He plans to continue raising his voice about climate change, saying “my voice is far more useful outside the agency than in it.”
For risking his career to stand up to the Trump administration and shed light on its “silencing” of climate change issues, we think Joel Clement deserves your consideration for this year’s Whistleblower of the Year.
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