President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team circulated a questionnaire to the Department of Energy requesting information about specific employees who’ve worked on climate change policies, according to documents obtained by The New York Times.
Several questions pertain to some of the agency’s procedural responsibilities, but it also asks for the identities of employees instrumental in developing climate policies. DOE employees provided The NYT with the list under the promise of anonymity.
“Can you provide a list of all Department of Energy employees or contractors who have attended Interagency Working Group on the Social Cost of Carbon meetings?” reads one of the questions. “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 or as a result of those meetings.”
Former Energy Department officials told reporters that such questions are not unusual — in fact, they are often par for the course, especially during a transition period. They said it’s strange to demand the identification of specific officials helping to craft climate policy.
“A lot of these questions make perfect sense,” Jonathan Levy, a former deputy chief of staff for the Energy Department in the Obama administration, told reporters. “They have to get their heads around what responsibilities they will have and don’t have. The thing that is unsettling are the questions that appear to be targeting personnel for doing public service.”
Offices at the EPA and the Department of the Interior, the agencies primarily responsible for determining the country’s climate policy, said they have not received questionnaires.
Michael McKenna, a former Energy Department official during George W. Bush’s administration, waved off concerns Trump’s administration would purge staff level employees over their views on global warming.
“The career staff at DOE is great,” McKenna said. “There’s not a soul in the world who wants to do harm to these guys.”
Trump’s well-documented climate skepticism and his pick to head the EPA have no doubt contributed to some of the angst among those in the DOE.
Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt has challenged the EPA numerous times. Pruitt joined dozens of states challenging two major EPA regulation: the Clean Power Plan (CPP) and the Clean Water Rule (CWR).
The CPP is the Obama administration’s signature global warming policy, which requires states to cut carbon dioxide emissions at power plants. The regulation is perceived by conservative critics as a hammer against the coal industry.
Pruitt joined 26 other states in suing EPA in 2015 to get rid of the CWR. EPA said the CRW would provide greater clarity over federal control of waterways, but the rule expanded federal power too far for most states.
Read the list here.