Seeking the names of employees who attended climate change talks ‘feels like the first draft of an eventual political enemies list,’ said an employee with the Department of Energy.
Donald Trump’s transition team has sent a list of 74 questions to the Energy Department (DOE), asking, among other things, for the identity of all employees and contractors involved in international climate meetings and domestic attempts to cut carbon emissions.
The questionnaire specifically asked for the names of all DOE employees who attended the United Nation’s annual climate talks for the past five years, employees who helped develop the President Obama’s social cost of carbon metrics, and which programs are essential to President Obama’s Climate Action Plan.
All of which raises concerns that Trump’s administration will target employees involved in Obama-era policies that the president-elect spent his campaign promising to dismantle, including the Paris Climate Agreement, Clean Power Plan, and various other DOE and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations.
"This feels like the first draft of an eventual political enemies list," said a Department of Energy employee, who asked not to be identified for fear of reprisal by the Trump transition team, told Reuters. "When Donald Trump said he wanted to drain the swamp it apparently was just to make room for witch hunts and it’s starting here at the DOE and our 17 national labs.”
This is hardly the first clash between politicians and scientists, nor the first incoming President to replace federal employees with more like-minded ones.
But what is different this time, Yale University environmental historian Paul Sabin told the Washington Post, is Trump’s request for so many specific names in an era when people are easily tracked down in "a systematic way."
He said, "What seems unusual is singling people out for a very specific substantive issue, and treating their work on that substantive issue as, by default, contaminating or disqualifying."
Other questions request information about the agency’s loan programs, semi-independent research laboratories, statistics office, how the scientific models used to forecast future climate changes operate, and consequences of fossil fuel use. Several questions regarding keeping aging nuclear power plants online and how to store spent radioactive material suggest the Trump administration has plans to invest in nuclear energy.