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Just five years ago, Charles Monnett was one of the scientists whose observation that several polar bears had drowned in the Arctic Ocean helped galvanize the global warming movement.
Now, the wildlife biologist is on administrative leave and facing accusations of scientific misconduct.
The federal agency where he works told him he's being investigated for "integrity issues," but a watchdog group believes it has to do with the 2006 journal article about the bear.
Monnett could not immediately be reached Thursday. His wife, Lisa Rotterman, a fellow scientist who worked with Monnett for years, including at BOEMRE's predecessor agency, said the case did not come out of the blue. Rotterman said Monnett had come under fire in the past within the agency for speaking the truth about what the science showed.
She said the 2006 article wasn't framed in the context of climate change but was relevant to the topic. She feared what happened to Monnett would send a "chilling message" at the agency just as important oil and gas development decisions in the Arctic will soon be made. "I don't believe the timing is coincidental," she said.