Polar Bear Gate

The bizarre episode we call “Polar Bear-gate” is winding to an end. The Interior Inspector General (IG) last Friday night issued a weird report that has already been rejected by the agency to which it was submitted. The IG report’s late release was intended to make sure as few people as possible actually saw this stinker.

Long story short: any allegations that Dr. Charles Monnett, one of the country’s most important Arctic scientists, engaged in falsification, data manipulation or other nefarious conduct have been thoroughly debunked. Even though Dr. Monnett and his work have been vindicated, during the past several months he was subjected to –

• Suspension and being escorted out of his office;
• Seizure of his papers, equipment and research materials;
• Reassignment from scientific work; and
• Removal of his name from awards given to projects he led.

After a two-and-a-half year nightmare, he has been restored to scientific work. But, instead of an apology, he was given a reprimand for supposedly improper leaks in 2007 and 2008. Ironically, Dr. Monnett is being charged with revealing agency misconduct in greasing Shell Arctic offshore permits. Compounding the irony is that Interior was wrongfully withholding the existence of scores of these emails during environmental litigation (for which officials should have been jailed for contempt). Consequently, this reprimand manages to be simultaneously illegal, insulting, inconsequential and utterly inane.

As Dr. Monnett strives to restore a career disrupted by clueless criminal investigators pawing through the scientific peer review process operating without adult leadership, we are left with troubling questions –

If you want to help us pursue answers to these questions and support our work on behalf of true environmental heroes like Charles Monnett, please show it.


Jeff Ruch