The Trump transition team has issued a list of 74 questions for the Energy Department, asking agency officials to identify which department employees and contractors have worked on forging an international climate pact as well as domestic efforts to cut the nation’s carbon output.

The questionnaire requests a list of those individuals who have taken part in international climate talks over the past five years and “which programs within DOE are essential to meeting the goals of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan.”

Trump and his team have vowed to dismantle specific aspects of Obama’s climate policies. The questionnaire, which one Energy Department official described as unusually “intrusive” and a matter for departmental lawyers, has raised concern that the Trump transition team was trying to figure out how to target the people, including civil servants, who have helped implement policies under Obama.

Thousands of scientists have signed petitions calling on the president-elect and his team to respect scientific integrity and refrain from singling out individual researchers whose work might conflict with the new administration’s policy goals. This potential clash could prompt a major schism within the federal government, with many career officials waging a battle against incoming political appointees.

While there have been many instances of political appointees and career scientists clashing in various administrations, what appears to be novel here is the request for the names of so many individual scientists, and that it comes during the transition period, before the Trump administration has even taken power.

This may be a signal of even more intense politicization after the inauguration.

Yale University environmental historian Paul Sabin said in an interview that previous administrations have worked in the past to install like-minded energy and environmental experts in key agencies, often at the expense of employees from previous administrations.

“But what seems unusual is singling people out for a very specific substantive issue, and treating their work on that substantive issue as, by default, contaminating or disqualifying,” Sabin said, adding that now officials can track a civil servant’s past activities “in such a systematic way” compared to the past.

Trump’s transition team did not respond to a request for comment.

The questionnaire was first reported by Bloomberg News. The Post has obtained its own a copy of both the initial document as well as one with some of the agency’s replies filled in, in addition to confirmation from other people in the department.

Democratic Rep. Bill Foster of Illinois, a physicist, warned that questionnaire “threatens to undo decades of progress we have made on climate change,” and Sen. Edward Markey, D-Mass., said punishing civil servants for their work under previous administrations “would be tantamount to an illegal modern-day political witch hunt and would have a profoundly chilling impact on our dedicated federal workforce.”

The document spanned a broad area of Energy Department activities, including its loan program, its technology research program, responses to Congress, estimates of offshore wind and cleanup of uranium at a site once used by the military for weapons research.

In many cases, the inquiries meshed with the priorities of conservative groups such as the Heritage Foundation, which held a meeting on energy and environment issues in Washington on Thursday, as well as priorities outlined in a recent fundraising pitch sent by the American Energy Alliance (AEA), a wing of the Institute for Energy Research.


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