Quantcast

Trump Team Sparks Fear of 'Witch Hunt' as it Demands List of Climate Experts at Energy Department

Popular

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

Scanning electron micrograph of Yersinia pestis, which causes bubonic plague, on proventricular spines of a Xenopsylla cheopis flea. NIAID / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

A middle-aged married couple in China was diagnosed with pneumonic plague, a highly infectious disease similar to bubonic plague, which ravaged Europe in the middle ages, as CNN reported.

Read More Show Less
Milk made from almonds, oats and coconut are among the healthiest alternatives to cow's milk. triocean / iStock / Getty Images Plus

Dairy aisles have exploded with milk and milk alternative options over the past few years, and choosing the healthiest milk isn't just about the fat content.

Whether you're looking beyond cow's milk for health reasons or dietary preferences or simply want to experiment with different options, you may wonder which type of milk is healthiest for you.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Greta Thunberg stands aboard the catamaran La Vagabonde as she sets sail to Europe in Hampton, Virginia, on Nov. 13. NICHOLAS KAMM / AFP via Getty Images

Greta Thunberg, the teenage climate activist whose weekly school strikes have spurred global demonstrations, has cut short her tour of the Americas and set sail for Europe to attend COP25 in Madrid next month, as The New York Times reported.

Read More Show Less
The Lake Delhi Dam in Iowa failed in 2010. VCU Capital News Service / Josh deBerge / FEMA

At least 1,688 dams across the U.S. are in such a hazardous condition that, if they fail, could force life-threatening floods on nearby homes, businesses, infrastructure or entire communities, according to an in-depth analysis of public records conducted by the the Associated Press.

Read More Show Less

By Sabrina Kessler

Far-reaching allegations about how a climate-sinning American multinational could shamelessly lie to the public about its wrongdoing mobilized a small group of New York students on a cold November morning. They stood in front of New York's Supreme Court last week to follow the unprecedented lawsuit against ExxonMobil.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored

By Alex Robinson

Leah Garcés used to hate poultry farmers.

The animal rights activist, who opposes factory farming, had an adversarial relationship with chicken farmers until around five years ago, when she sat down to listen to one. She met a poultry farmer called Craig Watts in rural North Carolina and learned that the problems stemming from factory farming extended beyond animal cruelty.

Read More Show Less
People navigate snow-covered sidewalks in the Humboldt Park neighborhood on Nov. 11 in Chicago. Scott Olson / Getty Images

Temperatures plunged rapidly across the U.S. this week and around 70 percent of the population is expected to experience temperatures around freezing Wednesday.

Read More Show Less
A general view of the flooded St. Mark's Square after an exceptional overnight "Alta Acqua" high tide water level, on Nov. 13 in Venice. MARCO BERTORELLO / AFP / Getty Images

Two people have died as Venice has been inundated by the worst flooding it has seen in more than 50 years, The Guardian reported Wednesday.

Read More Show Less