Department of Energy in Washington, DC.Begemot
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The US Department of Energy said it will not provide a list of names of staffers who worked on climate change issues to the Trump transition team on Tuesday, despite the team’s demand for that information.
On Friday, Bloomberg leaked a 75-question memo sent from the Trump transition team to the DOE, asking the department to provide information about the kinds of work it’s doing and the legal and procedural basis for certain programs. While such a questionnaire is not uncommon for transition teams to send federal agencies, the questionnaire also included demands that the DOE provide a list of names of staffers who worked on climate change issues.
Those demands came across as deeply concerning and highly unusual to career staffers and contractors, some of whom worked at the DOE not only during the Obama administration but under the Bush and Clinton administrations as well.
Trump has publicly called climate change a hoax, and just this weekend, he told the Fox Sunday host that “nobody really knows” about climate change.
These are blatant lies from Trump, as climate scientists have decades of research showing that climate change is happening.
The most recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report showed 95 percent statistical confidence that humans are the primary cause for this undeniable warming trend.
The Trump transition team’s request for the names of all staffers who attended meetings about the social cost of carbon, as well as any Conference of the Parties hosted by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, suggested to DOE staffers that the team could be looking to fire staffers for their work on climate change or to marginalize their role at the department.
According to the Washington Post, DOE officials sent an e-mail to employees this morning assuring them that no individual names will be provided to the Trump transition team:
The Department of Energy received significant feedback from our workforce throughout the department, including the National Labs, following the release of the transition team’s questions.
Some of the questions asked left many in our workforce unsettled. Our career workforce, including our contractors and employees at our labs, comprise the backbone of DOE 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.
The boldface in the final sentence was present in the e-mail sent by DOE spokesperson Eben Burnham-Snyder, according to the Post.
This morning, the Trump transition team announced its nomination of Rick Perry, former Texas governor with ties to the fossil fuel industry who has rejected climate science, to head the DOE. His appointment will need to be approved by the Senate to become official.
Amid this uncertainty about the future of climate science under the new administration, the Washington Post also reported this morning that “scientists have begun a feverish attempt to copy reams of government data onto independent servers in hopes of safeguarding it from any political interference,” including efforts to copy irreplaceable data from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) at a “guerrilla archiving” event in Toronto, as well as efforts to compile online portals for scientific information.
Meteorologist Eric Holthaus tweeted this weekend asking scientists to use a Google spreadsheet to list links to .gov databases they don’t want to see disappear, prompting dozens of entries from scientists, as well as offers from investors, lawyers, and database managers to help protect and store the data. While it’s unclear that a Trump administration would necessarily spell destruction for these databases, many scientists aren’t waiting around to find out.
In addition, this week at the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco, lawyers from the Climate Science Legal Defense Fund will be holding one-on-one consultations with researchers who feel they might need help protecting their data.