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By Tim Pearce
Former director of the Office of Policy Analysis at the Department of the Interior (DOI) Joel Clement claimed President Donald Trump is reassigning him to an accounting position for speaking “truth to power” on the dangers of climate change.
Clement said he’s blowing the whistle on the Trump administration in a Wednesday op-ed in the Washington Post.
“Removing a civil servant from his area of expertise and putting him in a job where he’s not needed and his experience is not relevant is a colossal waste of taxpayer dollars.” Clement wrote. “Much more distressing, though, is what this charade means for American livelihoods. The Alaska Native villages of Kivalina, Shishmaref and Shaktoolik are perilously close to melting into the Arctic Ocean.”
Clement served in the Senior Executive Service (SES) helping vulnerable Alaskan communities prepare for the effects of climate change before his reassignment.
While Clement recognizes the administration’s right to implement policies and organize the executive branch to best serve the needs of the president, Clement believes his removal was a direct result of standing up for Alaskan communities.
“I believe I was retaliated against for speaking out publicly about the dangers that climate change poses to Alaska Native communities,” Clement said. “Eliminating my role coordinating federal engagement and leaving my former position empty exacerbate the already significant threat to the health and the safety of certain Alaska Native communities.”
Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke said in a Thursday Senate committee hearing that the DOI would be using a “combination of attrition, reassignments, and separation incentives” to cut staff in order to meet budget goals for 2018.
An executive order to reorganize department staff caused Clement’s move. The SES’s purpose to certify the executive branch is “responsive to the needs, policies, and goals of the Nation,” Interior Spokeswoman Heather Swift told The Daily Caller News Foundation in an email.
“Senior executives are the highest paid employees in the federal government and signed up for the SES knowing that they could be called upon to work in different positions at any time,” Swift said. “Congress meant for the SES to be a mobile force that are capable of taking on different assignments to meet the needs of the agency.”