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Environment: IG investigators still hounding Arctic scientist

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A published article on polar bears has been an unending source of woes for a BOEM scientist. Photo courtesy USGS.

BOEM again rejects calls for renewed scrutiny of Charles Monnett

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — Government investigators just don’t want to stop scrutinizing an Arctic scientist who reported on sightings of drowned polar bears a few years ago.

Since publishing a peer-reviewed observational note in 2006, Bureau of Ocean Energy Management scientists Dr. Charles Monnett has been hounded by indirect allegations of scientific and professional misconduct related to the article and to his handling of contracting duties with the agency. Continue reading

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Environment: Probe of Arctic scientist ends inconclusively

A June 2012 image shows sea ice breaking up in the Beaufort Sea, targeted by energy companies for oil drilling.

Investigation ends with letter of reprimand for leaking emails

By Bob Berwyn

SUMMIT COUNTY —A Kafka-esque federal probe of a polar biologist ended inconclusively this week, as biologist Charles Monnett got a mild slap on the wrist for an alleged breach of policy that was unrelated to the focus of the 2.5-year investigation.

No charges will be brought against the Monnett regarding his high-profile research on polar bears, according to documents released today by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, but according to the Alaska Dispatch, the federal government still maintains that Monnett and a co-researcher may have used incomplete and perhaps even false data in writing a report about polar bear drownings.

According to the Alaska Dispatch, the Inspector General report also suggested that Monnett “intended to manipulate data to meet a personal agenda, including influencing the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s decision to list the polar bear under the Endangered Species Act.”

To this point, Monnett has received a letter of reprimand for allegedly improper disclosures back in 2007 and 2008 which helped reveal that Bush administration suppressed scientific information about oil drilling impacts.

Continue reading

Polar bear probe looks like fishing expedition

On the path to extinction. PHOTO BY USGS/STEVEN AMSTRUP.

Investigation of federal scientists takes a strange turn during latest round of interviews

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — If Franz Kafka were still alive, he’d no doubt be closely following the curious case of the ongoing investigation swirling around a pair of federal scientists who helped raise public awareness about environmental issues in the Arctic.

The controversial investigation by the Interior Department Office of Inspector General into a 2006 peer-reviewed journal article on drowned polar bears this week veered off into new directions which appear to solidify rather than impeach the article, according to Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, a watchdog group that has been following the case and providing legal representation for the scientists. Continue reading

Global warming: New IG report nitpicks EPA’s greenhouse gas endangerment finding purely for procedural reasons

The EPA says greenhouse gases pose a threat to human weath and welfare.

Review only covered procedures and does not question the underlying science used to make the finding

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — A new Inspector General report on the EPA’s greenhouse gas endangerment finding is sure to add fire to the political flames surrounding the agency’s authority to regulate greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide and methane.

The report concluded that the EPA met existing legal requirements for making its finding, as well as guidance aimed at ensuring the quality of the supporting technical information. Nothing in the IG report challenges the fundamental science used as a basis for the endangerment finding.

But the EPA disagreed with the IG as to whether the technical supporting documents should be considered a highly influential scientific assessment. The IG says it should be considered as such, and that the EPA did not meet federal requirements for such assessments, based on some procedural flaws in the agency’s review process. Continue reading

Udall says Afghanistan aid dollars subject to fraud

U.S. aid to Afghanistan is under scrutiny.

U.S. has spent $70 billion on reconstruction, but there’s a risk that some of the money may be funding insurgents

By Summit Voice

SUMMIT COUNTY — U.S. aid to Afghanistan is under scrutiny once again after an Inspector General report last week showed that little accountability for where the funds are going.

Sen. Mark Udall said the report suggests that some of the funds are at risk of being diverted for fraudulent purposes or to insurgent networks, potentially helping the enemy.

“We absolutely need strong measures in place to ensure that the billions of dollars we send through Afghanistan’s banks and financial sector are used in the way they were intended,” Udall said in a press release. “I read the IG’s report with dismay. It appears that there isn’t sufficient coordination among U.S. agencies or sufficient controls over how U.S. funds are used. The stakes here are enormous, since the inadvertent diversion of aid dollars to insurgents could result in funding the very forces who oppose our goals in Afghanistan. Continue reading

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