UPDATE: The Department of Energy has reportedly refused Donald Trump’s request for names of DOE employees and contractors who have been engaged in climate change research. That does not mean that Tump will never get those names. Once he is President, he can get the names. But for now, he’ll have to sit it out.
The Donald Trump transition team circulated an eight page questionnaire to the US Department of Energy. Such questionnaires are not normal. This particular questionnaire is deeply disturbing.
There are seventy-four questions. They provide insight into likely Trump administration energy policy, and there is not much of a surprise there. Most disturbing are the questions that elicit the sort of information one would gather at the outset of a purge or harassment campaign against a class of individuals, in this case, climate scientists and related personnel.
Here I provide text of a handful of the questions, brief descriptions of others, and a link to a copy of the original document, which was originally “obtained” by Bloomberg.
At the bottom of the post, I also provide a link to a letter from a leading member of Trump’s DOE transition team, possibly leaked (but maybe intentionally distributed, I’m not sure).
11. Which Assistant Secretary positions are rooted in statute and which exist at the discretion and delegation of the Secretary?
In other words, which senior people at DOE can we get rid of and which are we stuck with. Question 33 more or less asks the same question again, but slightly differently.
12. What is the statutory charge to the Department with respect to efficiency standards? Which products are subject to statutory requirements and which are discretionary to the department?
In other words, can we roll back efficiency standards, because … because Exxon-Mobile wants to sell more oil? … because we want to increase the rate of climate change because we know the 1% will do better than anyone else? … because we want to punch some hippies?
13. Can you provide a list of all Department of Energy employees or contractors who have attended an Interagency Working Group of the Social Cost of Carbon meetings? Can you provide 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 i anticipation of or as a result of those meetings?
In other words, we would like to compile a list of administrators and scientists who are working in the climate change area, assess their position on climate change, and and then begin a campaign of bullying, harassing, and general ruining the lives of, those individuals and their colleagues and families?
14. Did DOE or any of its contractors run the integrated assessment models (IAMs)? Did DOE pick the discount rates to be used with the IAMs? What was DOE’s opinion on the proper discount rates used with the IAMs? What was DOE’s opinion on the proper equilibrium climate sensitivity?
What’s that all about? The IAMs are related to the more familiar to you (I’m guessing) RCPs (Representative Concentration Pathways). Simply put, these are complicated models that try to take into account everything from energy policy and use to how changes in greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere change climate. There are two main known unknowns here. First, is how much CO2 and other greenhouse gasses we put into the environment (but that is an oversimplification) and the other is climate sensitivity, which is how much will global surface temperatures rise with a doubling of CO2 in the atmosphere (again, an oversimplification).
Climate sensitivity is a dog whistle. If you are a science denier, you say “climate sensitivity is 1.2” but if you understand and accept the basic science, you say “Nobody knows for sure, but somewhere between 2.0 and 6.0, most likely very close to about 3.0 or 3.5.”
15. What is the Department’s role with respect to JCPOA? Which office has the lead for the Department?
This is not related to climate change, but I thought I’d throw it in there anyway. The JCPOA is the Iran Deal.
16. What statutory authority has been given to the Department with respect to cybersecurity?
Again, not related to climate change, but given the recent revelations that Russia has been effectively manipulating US elections, and it is hard to imagine how The Donald got elected President of the United States, and given Trump’s Russian associations, it makes sense that the Trump transition team would want to keep track of this sort of thing.
Probably, he could just ask the Russians instead of the DOE, but, well, whatever.
17. Can you provide a list of all Schedule C appointees, all non-career SES employees, and all Presidential appointees requiring Senate confirmation? Can you include their current position and how long they have served in the Department?
These seem like reasonable things to know, if you are taking over the government and are responsible for staffing. But keep in mind that a) no one has ever done a questionnaire like this before; b) there is a transition process that is normally used that presumably addresses these issues; and c) we are talking about links between a part of the government that handles energy and climate and the outside world. If you were trying to build a list of Climate Enemies, this is where you would start. We have to assume, for the purposes of safety and security from what looks like it is going to be a tyrannical government, that this is what Trump is doing.
18. Can you offer more information about the EV Everywhere Grand Challenge?
The EV Everywhere Grand Challenge is “the umbrella effort of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to increase the adoption and use of plug-in electric vehicles…”
19. Can you 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?
This, of course, is asking for a list of DOE employees and beyond who are involved in climate change research. The UNFCCC is the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate change.
30. Which programs with DOE are essential to meeting the goals of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan?
The incoming Trump administration has indicated that it will reverse whatever it can among Obama’s accomplishments. We must assume that here, the incoming Trump administration is asking for a ready-made short list of things to eliminate in their apparent effort to move our civilization ever closer to apocalyptic doom.
There are several questions about the DOE’s Energy Information Agency, which is where you go to find out about how much energy we use, of what kind, where it comes from and goes, etc. In other words, the EIA provides an important set of baselines from which one might analyze, track, plan, and generally work on an energy transition. These questions seem to indicate an interest in moving away from renewables, or more precisely, towards changing assessment of energy policy to make renewables look less viable and fossil fuels look more necessary for a longer period of time. This seems to also indicate, unsurprisingly, a pro-fracking stance.
There are several vague questions about the DOE’s Environmental Management and the Handford nuclear waste site.
There are several questions that indicate an intention to expand Nuclear power, re-open Yucca Mountain, and privatize research. There is a question that indicates that the incoming Trump administration intends to cut the DOE budget by 10%
Finally, the last several questions ask about the DOE’s labs, focusing on the personnel. Who are they, what are they up to, what projects are they working on? That sort of thing.
The entire questionnaire is here: [trump-transition-questionaire-to-dept-energy] as a PDF file. Please look through it and let me know what you think.
There appear to be two different questionnaires. The other one is here: [document_gw_06]. I’ve not done a point by point comparison but they seem to be similar in overall content and meaning.
Here is the link to the Trump DOE Transition Team mentioned above: [pyle-what-to-expect-from-the-trump-administration_letter]