The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
Trump Team Sparks Fear of 'Witch Hunt' as it Demands List of Climate Experts at Energy Department
By Sarah Lazare
Donald Trump's transition team is instructing the Department of Energy (DOE) to hand over the names of all of the agency's contractors and employers who have worked on key climate policies under President Barack Obama, raising concerns that a witch hunt is being orchestrated by the incoming administration.
The request was included in a 74-question internal document that was distributed last Wednesday. Bloomberg journalists Catherine Traywick and Jennifer Dlouhy first reported the memo, which was publicly posted by E&E News.
In the 40th question, the Trump administration requests a complete list of staffers who have participated in international climate negotiations. "Can you provide a list of Department employees or contractors who attended any of the IA Conference of the Parties (under the UNFCCC) in the last five years?" the document states.
During his campaign, Trump vowed to " cancel" the Paris climate agreement, which was negotiated by representatives of nearly 200 countries.
The 27th question in the document states, "Can you provide a list of all Department of Energy employees or contractors who have attended any Interagency Working Group on the Social Cost of Carbon meetings? Can you provide a list of when those meetings were and any materials distributed at those meetings, EPSA emails associated with those meetings, or materials created by Department employees or contractors in anticipation of or as a result of those meetings?"
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and other federal bodies use the Social Cost of Carbon to "estimate of the economic damages associated with a small increase in carbon dioxide," according to a statement from the EPA. The Obama administration has employed the metric to calculate the potential outcomes of policies aimed at cutting greenhouse gas emissions.
The tool has garnered fierce opposition from conservatives and climate deniers, including David Kreutzer, who is part of Trump's transition team for the EPA. A senior research fellow for the conservative Heritage Foundation, Kreutzer previously referred to the Social Cost of Carbon as "fundamentally flawed."
Question 29 states, "Which programs within DOE are essential to meeting the goals of President Obama's Climate Action Plan?"
Furthermore, the document instructs the DOE to provide lists and information about lab researchers, including, "Can you provide a list of the top twenty salaried employees of the lab, with total remuneration and the portion funded by the DOE?" Teryn Norris, a former appointee to the DOE, noted on Twitter that "The questions on lab researchers—outside positions, prof society memberships, publications, websites—are extremely concerning."
That an incoming administration is requesting the personal information of all civil servants who worked on these key initiatives and research is raising alarm.
Ken Kimmell, president of the Union of Concerned Scientists, declared in a press statement that "Creating lists of employees smacks of McCarthyism and should cease immediately."
"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," John Coequyt, climate policy director for Sierra Club, said in a press statement.
"This action should not be viewed in isolation," Kimmel continued. "The Trump transition team is teeming with individuals with a proven history of attacking climate scientists and undermining climate science. Several transition team members now overseeing federal agencies have harassed scientists based on their research and have long signaled a desire to dismantle federal climate science research."
News of the questionnaire broke shortly before media outlets reported that the oil barron Rex Tillerson, current CEO of Exxon Mobil Corp., is Trump's appointee as Secretary of State. Thomas Pyle, who leads Trump's energy transition team, is the president of the Institute for Energy Research, which was established by Charles Koch. He formerly worked as a lobbyist for Koch Industries.
In addition to pledging to tear up the Paris climate agreement, Trump vowed during his campaign to reverse environmental protections and approve more pipelines and oil and gas drilling. In 2012, Trump falsely stated on Twitter that "The concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive."
Meanwhile, environmental campaigners and scientists have long warned that Obama's climate policies do not go far enough to address the crisis.
Reposted with permission from our media associate AlterNet.
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Emily Deanne
Shower shoes? Check. Extra-long sheets? Yep. Energy efficiency checklist? No worries — we've got you covered there. If you're one of the nation's 12.1 million full-time undergraduate college students, you no doubt have a lot to keep in mind as you head off to school. If you're reading this, climate change is probably one of them, and with one-third of students choosing to live on campus, dorm life can have a big impact on the health of our planet. In fact, the annual energy use of one typical dormitory room can generate as much greenhouse gas pollution as the tailpipe emissions of a car driven more than 156,000 miles.
By Lorraine Chow
Kokia drynarioides is a small but significant flowering tree endemic to Hawaii's dry forests. Native Hawaiians used its large, scarlet flowers to make lei. Its sap was used as dye for ropes and nets. Its bark was used medicinally to treat thrush.
States that invest heavily in renewable energy will generate billions of dollars in health benefits in the next decade instead of spending billions to take care of people getting sick from air pollution caused by burning fossil fuels, according to a new study from MIT and reported on by The Verge.
Hawaii's Kilauea volcano could be gearing up for an eruption after a pond of water was discovered inside its summit crater for the first time in recorded history, according to the AP.
By Kristin Ohlson
From where I stand inside the South Dakota cornfield I was visiting with entomologist and former USDA scientist Jonathan Lundgren, all the human-inflicted traumas to Earth seem far away. It isn't just that the corn is as high as an elephant's eye — are people singing that song again? — but that the field burgeons and buzzes and chirps with all sorts of other life, too.
Humanity faced its hottest month in at least 140 years in July, the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) said on Thursday. The finding confirms similar analysis provided by its EU counterparts.
By Hans Nicholas Jong
Indonesia's president has made permanent a temporary moratorium on forest-clearing permits for plantations and logging.
It's a policy the government says has proven effective in curtailing deforestation, but whose apparent gains have been criticized by environmental activists as mere "propaganda."