The U.S. Department of Energy said it will not provide a list of names of staffers who have worked on climate change issues to the Trump transition team on Tuesday, despite the team’s request for that information.
On Friday, Bloomberg leaked a 75-question memo sent to the DOE by Trump’s transition team asking the department to provide information about the type of work it does and the legal and procedural basis for certain programs. While such a questionnaire is not uncommon for transition teams to send to federal agencies, the questionnaire also included a requirement that the DOE provide a list of names of staffers who worked on climate change issues. Those demands sounded very concerning and highly unusual to career workers and contractors, some of whom worked at the DOE not only during the Obama administration, but also under the Bush and Clinton administrations.
Trump has publicly called climate change a hoax, and over the weekend told the Fox Sunday host that “no one really knows” about climate change. These are blatant lies from Trump, as climate scientists have decades of research showing that climate change is happening. The most recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change showed 95 percent statistical confidence that humans are the primary cause of this undeniable warming trend.
The Trump transition team’s request for the names of all staffers who attended meetings on the social cost of carbon, as well as any conference of the parties hosted by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, suggested to DOE staffers that the team might looking to fire staffers for their work on climate change or to marginalize their role in the department.
According to the Washington PostDOE officials emailed employees this morning to assure them that individual names will not be provided to the Trump transition team:
The Department of Energy received significant feedback from our staff across the department, including the National Labs, following the release of the transition team’s questions. Some of the questions asked left many of our staff distressed. Our career personnel, including our contractors and employees in our labs, are the backbone of DOE and the important work our department does to benefit the American people. We respect the professional and scientific integrity and independence of our employees in our laboratories and within our department.
We will provide all publicly available information with the transition team. We will not pass on individual names to the transition team.
The bold text in the last sentence was in the email from DOE spokesperson Eben Burnham-Snyder, according to the After.
This morning, Trump’s transition team announced the appointment of Rick Perry, a former Texas governor with ties to the fossil fuel industry who has rejected climate science, to lead the DOE. His nomination must be approved by the Senate to become official.
Amid this uncertainty about the future of climate science under the new administration, the Washington Post also reported this morning that “scientists have embarked on a feverish effort to copy masses of government data to independent servers in the hopes of protecting it from any political interference,” including attempts to copy irreplaceable Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) data on a “guerrilla archiving’ event in Toronto, as well as efforts to create online portals for scientific information.
Meteorologist Eric Holthaus tweeted this weekend asking scientists to use a Google spreadsheet to list links to .gov databases they don’t want to see disappear. protect and store the data. While it’s unclear that a Trump administration would necessarily mean the destruction of these databases, many scientists aren’t waiting to find out. In addition, lawyers from the Climate Science Legal Defense Fund will conduct one-on-one consultations this week at the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco with researchers who believe they may need help protecting their data.