President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team on Wednesday indicated it did not authorize a survey sent to the Department of Energy requesting the name of personnel who have worked on issues related to climate change, CNN reported Wednesday. “The questionnaire was not authorized or part of our standard protocol. The person who sent it has been properly counseled,” CNN quoted an unidentified transition official as saying.
The transition team survey sent to DOE was leaked to the press late last week. The questionnaire requested that the department provide “a list of Department employees or contractors who attended any of the Conference of the Parties (under the UNFCCC) in the last five years.”
The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change is the treaty under which the international Paris Agreement on climate change was adopted in December 2015. During his campaign, Trump vowed to “cancel” the agreement. Since being elected, however, he has softened his language on the accord, saying he is “studying it” and has an “open mind.”
The department made clear Tuesday it would not comply with the Trump team’s request. “Some of the questions asked left many in our workforce unsettled. … We are going to respect the professional and scientific integrity and independence of our employees at our labs and across our department,” DOE spokesman Eben Burnham-Snyder said in a prepared statement. “We will be forthcoming with all publicly-available information with the transition team. We will not be providing any individual names to the transition team,” Burnham-Snyder stated.
Earlier Wednesday, Anthony Scaramucci, a member of Donald Trump’s Presidential Transition Team Executive Committee, seemed more willing to take responsibility for the questionnaire. “This is an intellectual curiosity expedition,” Scaramucci said on CNN’s New Day. “We’re really trying to come up with the best solutions for the American people and the best solutions for the world.”
Scaramucci also suggested that the science of climate change is not settled, comparing those who believe in climate change to scientists who once thought the Earth was flat. “We get a lot of things wrong in the scientific community,” he said. He later added that he’s not a scientist and that he was “not suggesting that we’re not affecting the change. I honestly don’t know.”
The actual scientists at NASA have, however, been very clear about the science of climate change. “Multiple studies published in peer-reviewed scientific journals show that 97 percent or more of actively publishing climate scientists agree: Climate-warming trends over the past century are extremely likely due to human activities,” NASA has pointed out.
The survey also targeted the social cost of carbon, a measure used to determine climate costs and benefits to government actions. The transition team asked for “a list of all Department of Energy employees or contractors who have attended any lnteragency Working Group on the Social Cost of Carbon meetings,” as well as “a list of when those meetings were and any materials distributed at those meetings, emails associated with those meetings, or materials created by Department employees or contractors in anticipation of or as a result of those meetings.”