Donald Trump’s transition team on Wednesday distanced itself from the questionnaire it sent to the Energy Department asking for a list of staffers and contractors who had been engaged in climate policy discussions.
“The questionnaire was not authorized or part of our standard protocol. The person who sent it has been properly counseled,” an unnamed Trump transition official told CNN.
The Trump team sent a questionnaire to the Energy Department asking for a list of employees who had attended United Nations meetings on climate and those who attended meetings for the interagency working group on the social cost of carbon, a metric used by the Obama administration to determine the impact of reducing carbon pollution. The Trump team also asked which programs are “essential to meeting the goals of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan.”
The Energy Department rejected the request to list certain staffers this week, noting that employees were “unsettled” by the questionnaire.
“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,” Energy Department Spokesman Eben Burnham-Snyder said in a statement. “We will be forthcoming with all publically-available information with the transition team. We will not be providing any individual names to the transition team.”
Democrats on the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the House Oversight Committee sent a letter to Mike Pence on Wednesday asking for a copy of the questionnaire and other attempts to identify certain staffers in other departments. They warned that that targeting certain employees would be an “abuse of authority.”
“We are concerned that these efforts to single out particular Department employees involved in efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions may be an attempt to target DOE employees whose scientific views on climate change differ from those of the incoming Trump Administration,” Rep. Frank Pallone (D-NJ) and Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD) wrote in the letter.