(Adds Energy Department spokesman, letter to Pence from
By Timothy Gardner and Emily Stephenson
WASHINGTON Dec 14 President-elect Donald
Trump's transition team on Wednesday disavowed a survey sent to
the U.S. Department of Energy that requested the names of people
working on climate change in the agency.
"The questionnaire was not authorized or part of our
standard protocol," Trump spokesman Sean Spicer said. "The
person who sent it has been properly counseled."
Spicer declined to comment further on the team's protocols.
The survey of 74 questions, which the Energy Department
received last Tuesday, asked for the names of workers and
contractors who had attended U.N. climate meetings. It also
asked for the names of those who had attended meetings on the
social cost of carbon, a metric that federal agencies use in
formulating regulations on the energy business.
The department had balked at the survey on Monday, saying it
would not comply.
A department spokesman said on Wednesday that the Trump
team's disavowal hopefully signals the return to a smooth
transition at the agency.
The survey had also asked for a list of all the
professional society memberships of workers at the department's
17 national laboratories and all of their recent publications.
The White House weighed in on the survey this week. Josh
Earnest, a White House spokesman, said the questionnaire "could
have been an attempt to target civil servants," including career
scientists and lawyers and other experts critical to the
government's ability to make policy.
In addition, hours before the disavowal, Democratic U.S.
Representatives Frank Pallone and Elijah Cummings sent a letter
to Vice President-elect Mike Pence, the head of the transition,
saying the team is entitled to select political appointees who
share Trump's climate views, but that any effort to marginalize
civil servants on the basis of their scientific analysis would
be an "abuse of authority."
Trump, a Republican, has said that climate change was a hoax
perpetrated by China. He said he would rip up last year's
landmark global climate deal struck in Paris that was signed by
Democratic President Barack Obama.
Since winning the election, however, Trump, who will take
office on Jan. 20, has said he will keep an "open mind" about
the Paris deal. He also met with former Vice President Al Gore
and actor Leonardo DiCaprio, strong advocates for action on
Trump has picked climate change skeptic Rick Perry to run
the Energy Department. Perry, governor of Texas from December
2000 to January 2015, would replace nuclear physicist Ernest
(Additional reporting by David Shepardson; editing by Grant
McCool and Jonathan Oatis)