Talk about biting the hand that feeds you! NASAâ€™s James Hansen, director of the Goddard Institute for Space Studies and a controversial and highly vocal voice of alarm about the planetâ€™s changing climate, will retire as the director of the space institute, NASA announced Tuesday -- and plans to immediately sue his former employer. 'It was becoming clear that there were people in NASA who would be much happier if the sideshow would exit.'- James Hansen Hansen will step down from his $180,000 a year position to join a number of lawsuits challenging the federal and state governments for their failure to police industry over manâ€™s effect on the climate, the New York Times reported. Hansen was clearly aware of the irony. â€œAs a government employee, you canâ€™t testify against the government,â€ he told the Times. Hansen is a central figure in the battle against climate change; on Feb. 13, he was arrested alongside of actress Daryl Hannah, activist Bill McKibben and a small group of activists protesting the planned Keystone XL oil pipeline from Canada to the U.S. Gulf of Mexico. That was at least the fourth arrest for the climate scientist -- and his high profile was raising eyebrows at NASA headquarters. Several climate blogs skeptical of the theory that manâ€™s actions are harming the planet literally rejoiced at the news. â€œCelebrate! Itâ€™s a happy day for science!â€ wrote Marc Morano, editor of the widely read ClimateDepot.com blog. â€œNASA and science deserved much better than James Hansen.â€ Peter Hildebrand, director of the Earth Sciences Division at NASAâ€™s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Md., will serve as interim director until a new director is selected through a competitive process, NASA said. His colleagues offered a far different characterization of the career of the longest serving director in the instituteâ€™s history. â€œJim Hansen has demonstrated the spirit of an American pioneer. He has pushed forward the frontier of our knowledge of Earthâ€™s climate system and of the impacts that humanity is having on Earthâ€™s climate,â€ said Nicholas E. White, director of the Sciences and Exploration Directorate at Goddard. Hansen is likely to work out of a converted barn on his farm in Pennsylvania, although he has not ruled out setting up a small institute of his own.