Published: Wed, December 14, 2016
Sport | By Desiree Waters

Trump's Energy Department Questionnaire Has Some People Worried

Chinese President Xi Jinping shakes hands with President Obama and U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon during a joint ratification of the Paris climate change agreement ceremony in Hangzhou, China, on September 3.

Michael Halpern, the deputy director of the Center for Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists, told Bloomberg - which first uncovered the questionaire - that it was "certainly alarming that they would be targeting specific employees in this way".

"The badgering tone of the questionnaire and its focus on particular meetings and emails related to important climate change work are troubling, and I urge the Trump transition team to clarify their intent as soon as possible", Udall said in a prepared statement.

The memo also requested a list of all department employees and contractors who attended the United Nations annual global climate change talks within the last five years.

The revelation comes after a leaked 74-point questionnaire from Trump's Energy Department transition team asked participants to name employees and contractors who worked on an worldwide climate pact, as well as domestic efforts to cut down on greenhouse emissions.

Besides asking for identification of employees, the Trump transition team also asked questions like, "Which programs within DOE are essential to meeting the goals of President Obama's Climate Action Plan?"

Tom Pyle, the head of Trump's Energy Department landing team and president of the oil-industry-funded free-market advocacy group American Energy Alliance, didn't immediately respond to a request for comment on the memo.

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Some of the questions asked by Trump's team left DOE workers "unsettled", spokesman Eben Burnham-Snyder said, adding that DOE officials "respect the professional and scientific integrity and independence of our employees at our labs and across our department".

Sen. Edward Markey, D-Mass., sent a letter to Trump on Friday telling the president-elect that the new Trump administration would violate the law if any of the information being collected is used to punish department employees who carried out legal policy directives. Those working groups generated metrics and recommendations for the Obama administration to craft new regulations.

The questionnaire asked for information on several Department of Energy programs and asks twice for lists of the names of staff members who worked on specific projects.

In response to news of the document, Senator Ed Markey, a Democrat from MA, sent a letter to Trump warning that any punishment of agency workers carrying out policies his administration doesn't agree with "would be tantamount to an illegal modern-day political witch hunt, and would have a profoundly chilling impact on our dedicated federal workforce". The team also wants a status report on the department's recent issue of $4.5 billion in loan guarantees for electric vehicles.

The creation of a high-level nuclear waste dump at Yucca Mountain northwest of Las Vegas is a hot-button issue.

At the Defense Department, Trump transition personnel are having multiple meetings a day with Pentagon personnel, but in some cases have asked Obama administration political appointees not to attend those meetings, officials there said.

The Obama administration cut off federal funding in 2010, effectively mothballing the project. The document obtained by Bloomberg offers clues on where his administration may be headed on energy policy, based on the nature of questions involving the agency's research agenda, nuclear program and national labs. Trump railed against the agreement during the campaign, calling it "stupid", a "lopsided disgrace" and the "worst deal ever negotiated".

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