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2016-12-16
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Disconcerting Questions by Trump Transition Team

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It is no secret that President-elect Donald Trump does not agree with climate change science. The matter was summed up nicely in his Tweet declaring "the concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive."

With that in mind, perhaps it is also no surprise the transition team would inquire of the Department of Energy about their role in global warming science. What did surprise many, however, was the apparent edge to which those questions would pry.

Which programs within DOE are essential to meetings the goals of President Obama's Climate Action Plan?

Can you provide a list of all Department of Energy employees or contractors who have attended any Interagency Working Group on the Social Cost of Carbon meetings? Can you provide a list of when those meetings were and any materials distributed at those meetings, emails associated with those meetings, or materials created by Department employees or contractors in anticipation of or as a result of those meetings?

Can you provide a list of Department employees or contractors who attended any of the Conference of the Parties (under the UNFCCC) in the last five years?

To be fair, a good portion of the questions were of a purely information gathering nature. However, the inquiry to identify which programs supported the current administration's climate action plan followed by a request to enumerate all of the employees involved is a rather pointed stab. In a commendable move by the Department of Energy's leadership, they opted to say no to the transition team regarding the identification of individual employees. It is understandable that politically appointed agency heads change out with new administrations but the Federal workforce by design is meant to weather transitions and provide a steady, non-partisan body of knowledge and labor on behalf of the American public.

According to their public relations spokesman, "Our career workforce, including our contractors and employees at our labs, comprise the backbone of (the Energy Department) and the important work our department does to benefit the American people. We are going to respect the professional and scientific integrity and independence of our employees at our labs and across our department. We will be forthcoming with all publicly available information with the transition team. We will not be providing any individual names to the transition team."

Since the transition team's questions were leaked to the media and in response to the Department's rejection, the questionnaire has been disavowed. The Trump administration acknowledged it "was not authorized or part of our standard protocol" and "the person who sent it has been properly counseled."


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