The clock is ticking for Barack Obama’s climate warriors working at the Department of Energy.
President-Elect Donald Trump has circulated a questionnaire among employees asking for information about specific employees and their involvement in climate change policies.
Many of the questions deal directly with the agency’s procedural responsibilities, but the questions also delve into the specific identities of employees instrumental in developing climate policy under the Obama Administration, the Daily Caller reports. The New York Times obtained the survey from an agency employee.
“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.”
These types of questions are not unusual, former Energy Department officials said – rather they’re standard whenever there’s a turnover in the administration. But what’s unusual is demanding the names 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.”
So far, the Energy Department is the only agency to receive the questionnaire. Officials at the EPA and Interior departments said they have not received it – yet.
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 told The Daily Caller. “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 regulations: 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 Pruitt and others claim the rule expanded federal power too far for most states.