Earlier this week, Hansen was arrested along with Daryl Hannah (note to Daryl: The ditsy blond thing doesn't work when you're over 50), for acts of civil disobedience outside the White House. Hansen and a few hundred others were trying to stop the Keystone XL project, a pipeline that would carry crude oil from the Athabasca Oil Sands in Alberta, Canada to refineries in the United States.
In getting arrested, Hansen broke a number of provisions of the "Standards of Ethical Conduct for Employees of the Executive Branch." For one, he failed to demonstrate "loyalty" to the law by... umm... breaking it.
Hansen's most clear-cut violation of federal ethical standards may have been that he allowed NASA to be associated with the anti-pipeline protest.
The ethics rules are quite clear about this: "An employee who is engaged in teaching, speaking or writing as outside employment or as an outside activity shall not [emphasis added] use or permit the use of his official title or position to identify him in connection with [the activity]" unless his affiliation is just one of a list of biographical details and given no more prominence than any of the other details.
On August 29, Tar Sands Action, the group organizing the White House protest, issued a press release with the headline: "Largest Day of Arrests Yet at White House Pipeline Protest: NASA Climate Scientist and Religious Leaders Among 140 arrested." The release went on to quote James Hansen.
That's probably not what they meant when they stipulated "no more prominent."
Given the brazenness of his violations, it may be that getting fired - and becoming a radical green martyr - is exactly what Hansen is angling for.
The Obama Administration should give him what he wants...
...while doing what the law requires.