Update on Suspension of Polar Bear Researcher

"Polarbeargate" may not be the gold mine that climate change denialists had hoped for. The 18 July suspension of government researcher Charles Monnett, originally thought to have been triggered by questions about his 2006 study of drowned polar bears (see background), actually relates to Monnett's management of $50 million in research contracts. That's according to a letter sent 29 July by the Department of the Interior's inspector general.

Monnett, who works for the department's Bureau of Ocean Energy Management Regulation and Enforcement (BOEMRE), will be grilled next week about an ongoing study, "Populations and Sources of Recruitment in Polar Bears," being conducted by the University of Alberta. The inspector general's office told Monnett that he will be questioned on his personal relationship with the lead researcher and his compliance with the Federal Acquisition Regulation.

Contracting officer Celeste Rueffert told Monnett in a 13 July memo that BOEMRE "[has] concerns about your ability to act as the Contracting Officer's Representative in an impartial and objective manner on the subject contract. The project, which was stopped when Monnett was suspended, has now resumed.