Former Top Interior Department Official to Work with UCS to Fight for Science, Democracy

Published Jan 29, 2018

WASHINGTON (January 29, 2018)—Last year, Joel Clement was removed from his position leading the Interior Department’s Office of Policy Analysis and transferred to an office overseeing oil and gas royalties. Clement left the Trump administration in protest, seeing the reassignment as a deliberate effort to weaken the agency’s mission of protecting America’s natural resources.

Now, Clement will join the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) as a senior fellow, working to raise awareness of the threats to science and science-based policies in the Trump era.

“The task of protecting science and the public interest has never been more important,” said Clement. “Political appointees in this administration are undermining the science that should be guiding our policies—and putting people at risk in the process.”

A trained ecologist, Clement worked for seven years at the Interior Department, collaborating with Alaskan native villages and helping the department’s agencies manage the risks of climate change. He describes the administration’s upending of science programs as not just neglect, but a deliberate sidelining of science.

“It’s clear that these moves are designed to make the department less effective and increase the power of industry,” said Clement. “It’s simply unacceptable—it wastes taxpayer funds, burns bridges with local communities and betrays the government’s responsibility to protect our health and safety.”

Clement comes to UCS just a few months after the organization launched its Science Protection Project to give legal support to federal employees who want to help bring to light actions that diminish the role of science in policymaking. Scientists can also contact UCS through multiple secure communications channels. UCS is working with scientific societies, environmental and public health groups, and grassroots coalitions to hold the administration accountable for attacks on science.

“The sidelining of scientists doesn’t just endanger the careers of individual scientists, it also harms the health and safety of all of us,” said Michael Halpern, deputy director of the Center for Science and Democracy at UCS. “What happened to Joel Clement is part of a dangerous pattern of attacks on science at the highest levels. We depend on federal science to keep our air and water clean, ensure our food is safe, track and manage natural disasters, and contain disease. The science community is fighting back against attacks on science in increasingly creative ways.”