According to documents obtained by Politico, Donald Trump’s transition team has asked the Energy Department to cough-up the names of any employees who have worked on President Obama’s climate initiatives — in a move which has all the hallmarks of a good ol’fashioned witch hunt.
Politico reports that the President-Elect’s transition team provided a 74-point questionnaire to the Department of Energy during the week which not only sought the names of any and all employees involved in President Obama’s climate initiatives, but also sought information on how the Energy Information Administration (EIA) came to their cost-effectiveness calculations for wind and solar power versus fossil fuel.
Specifically, the questionnaire calls for the names of energy Department of Energy employees who have attended United Nations climate change meetings, as well as those who have worked on the “social cost of carbon.”
Bloomberg news adds some further details, including news that advisers to Donald Trump “are developing plans to reshape Energy Department programs [and] help keep ageing nuclear plants online.” Bloomberg also claims that the questionnaire seeks “information on agency loan programs, research activities and the basis for its statistics.”
“Sounds like a freaking witch hunt,” one former DOE staffer wrote in an email, according to Politico.
“It is a remarkably aggressive and antagonistic tone to take with an agency that you’re about to try to manage,” a current agency employee said. Another DOE staffer expressed the view that “some [of the questions] are harassment, some are naive, some are legitimate.”
The news comes at the end of a difficult week for the US climate and energy world, in which Donald Trump appointed anti-EPA, “puppet of the fossil fuel industry,” Oklahoma attorney general Scott Pruitt to the head of the EPA. The week also saw the leak of a memo which outlined the possible energy agenda for President-Elect Trump’s administration — which confirmed suspicions that Trump would be going gung-ho at rolling back any and all progress made by President Obama in fighting climate change and supporting renewable energy, while in turn throwing his full-throated behind fossil fuels.
This latest news from Politico simply adds to the growing concern in America that Donald Trump is going to take an axe to healthy climate and energy policies in favour of policies that are not only unfavourable to the environment, but are being proven time and again to be economically non-viable.
“It looks like Trump and his administration are planning a political witch hunt which has no place in American government: purging or marginalizing anyone who has worked on the issue of climate change,” said John Coequyt, Sierra Club Global Climate Policy Director. “And that’s at the same time they are looking for ways to eliminate the very scientific infrastructure we need to monitor changes to our planet and its climate. You can’t purge physics from planet earth, and seas will keep rising regardless.”
And it’s hard to disagree with this assumption; what other reason would Trump’s transition team have for this information other than to use it against people?
Senator Ed Markey, A Massachusetts Democrat, has similarly responded, sending a letter to Donald Trump warning him that any action taken against DoE employees carrying out policies Trump 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.”
“It’s certainly alarming that they would be targeting specific employees in this way,” added Michael Halpern, deputy director of the Center for Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists. “Scientists are looking at this with some suspicion, because many of the people who have been chomping at the bit to dismantle federal climate change science programs are now deeply embedded in the transition.”
Chart via Skeptical Science
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