At the same time Donald Trump was taking meetings with Al Gore and Leonardo DiCaprio, the president-elect was selecting a climate change skeptic and fossil fuels industry ally to head the Environmental Protection Agency. But perhaps the most disturbing action of the Trump transition so far took place at the Department of Energy, where a questionnaire was distributed to agency officials asking them to name employees and contractors who have participated in United Nations climate talks over the past five years.
“I am alarmed by the questionnaire sent by the Trump transition team to the Department of Energy seeking the names of career civil servants who have worked on climate change policy,” House Democratic Whip Steny H. Hoyer (D-Md.) said in a statement. “This raises serious concerns as to the motivation of such a request and raises questions of possible retribution for following President Obama’s policies.”
Another one of the 74 questions asked which staffers worked on calculating the Social Cost of Carbon, a measurement that the DOE and other federal departments and agencies use to weigh the climate change benefits and costs of regulations. The government determined the price of carbon pollution at $36 a ton. Question 29 asked which DOE programs are involved in implementing President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, an initiative that Trump has threatened to cancel upon taking office. The survey also targeted the department’s Energy Information Administration, challenging the independence of its statistical analysis during the Obama Administration and questioning if EIA unfairly favored renewables over fossil fuels.
With Rep. Frank Pallone of New Jersey, the top Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee, calling the questionnaire a “witch hunt” and “environmental McCarthyism,” it is becoming clear that a Trump Administration will not be guided by science but instead by what is good for the Koch brothers, ExxonMobil and other dirty energy companies. Speaking on “Fox News Sunday,” Trump was completely dismissive of the overwhelming scientific consensus that human activities such as burning fossil fuels and deforestation are contributing to global warming, saying that “nobody really knows” if climate change is real.