Joel Clement wants you to know he's not a member of the "deep state," or a representative of Big Government. Instead, call him "a scientist, a policy expert, a civil servant … a worried citizen"—and now, per his opinion piece Wednesday in the Washington Post, a "whistleblower" on the Trump administration, which Clement says "chooses silence over science." For almost seven years, Clement has worked for the Interior Department—until last week, he was director of the department's Office of Policy Analysis—where one of his major assignments was helping Alaskan communities tackle challenges brought about by climate change. But he says in mid-June he and dozens of other senior workers were given "involuntary reassignments." He was moved into the Office of Natural Resources Revenue, an accounting arm (he's not an accountant) that takes in royalty checks from fossil fuel firms.
Based on that situation, as well as testimony from Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, Clement writes, he thinks the administration's strategy is to purge scientists by placing them in "ill-fitting jobs" (a "colossal waste" of taxpayer funds), spurring them to quit. Clement also believes he was targeted since he's been so outspoken on climate change issues, and he's going to continue to be: He's filed a complaint and other whistleblowing paperwork with the US Office of Special Counsel to protect the communities he was helping (as well as himself against retaliation) and to put Trump's crew on notice. "Putting citizens in harm's way isn't the president's right," he says. "Silencing civil servants, stifling science, squandering taxpayer money, and spurning communities in the face of imminent danger have never made America great." His column in its entirety here. (Read more opinion stories.)