Resisting what is widely feared to be a "climate purge" of government employees who have studied global warming and other environmental policies under U.S. President Barack Obama, the Department of Energy (DOE) confirmed Tuesday that it would not be releasing individual names to President-elect Donald Trump's transition team.
"There is major concern amongst my members," Jeff Eagan, president of the National Treasury Employees Union (NTEU) chapter at the DOE's Washington headquarters, told the Washington Post. "I have received lots of calls, emails, messages expressing shock and dismay."
The outcry was in response to an internal memo, made public last week, in which the transition team submitted 65 questions to the DOE—a number of which sought specific information on "employees and contractors who attended United Nations climate meetings, along with those who helped develop the Obama administration's social cost of carbon metrics, used to estimate and justify the climate benefits of new rules," as Bloomberg reported at the time.
But the DOE isn't rolling over.
In an emailed statement sent to news outlets, department spokesperson Eben Burnham-Snyder responded to the request, saying that the "questions asked left many in our workforce unsettled."
Our career workforce, including our contractors and employees at our labs, comprise the backbone of DOE (Department of Energy) and the important work our department does to benefit the American people. We are going to respect the professional and scientific integrity and independence of our employees at our labs and across our department.
We will be forthcoming with all publically-available information with the transition team. We will not be providing any individual names to the transition team. (emphasis in the email)
While the president-elect has professed ambivalence in regards to whether humanity is driving climate change, his cabinet appointments and vows to role back environmental regulations and policies have left many in the science community rattled.
Indeed, some have begun compiling independent archives of government climate data.
As the Guardian's Oliver Milman pointed out on Monday, "Trump has assembled a transition team in which at least nine senior members deny basic scientific understanding that the planet is warming due to the burning of carbon and other human activity. These include the transition heads of all the key agencies responsible for either monitoring or dealing with climate change."
In addition, his nominees to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, the Department of the Interior, and now—with Tuesday's appointment of Texas Governor Rick Perry—the Department of Energy, are all unabashed climate change deniers.