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On Wednesday, a spokesman for President-Elect Trump’s transition team told Reuters that the team would not be seeking the names of Department of Energy (DOE) employees who had attended meetings and conferences on climate change.
“The questionnaire was not authorized or part of our standard protocol,” Trump spokesman Sean Spicer told the news outlet. “The person who sent it has been properly counseled.” Spicer apparently declined to comment any further.
The controversial questionnaire was sent to the Department of Energy last Friday, and included dozens of questions about the legal, financial, and organizational structures within the DOE. While the majority of the questions were straightforward, several questions stood out as highly unusual for any administration’s transition team to ask. Specifically, Trump’s team demanded names of individual employees that attended conferences on the social cost of carbon as well as names of employees that attended any Conference of the Parties hosted by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.The request worried staffers—some of whom are long-time civil servants who have worked at the department under Obama, Bush, and Clinton administrations—that they would be targeted by the new administration, which has been overt about its baseless disdain for decades of solid climate science.
On Monday, DOE officials e-mailed staffers saying that no such list of individual employees would be turned over to the Trump Administration transition team. “We are going to respect the professional and scientific integrity and independence of our employees at our labs and across our department,” the e-mail said.
Trump has falsely said that climate change is a hoax created by the Chinese, and as recently as this Sunday attempted to dispute climate science on Fox News. He has nominated former Texas senator Rick Perry to replace nuclear physicist Ernest Moniz as head of the DOE.