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DOE will not turn over climate change names to Trump team

The U.S. Department of Energy will not release the names of employees who have worked on climate change initiatives with the current administration, as requested by President-elect Donald Trump. Energy Department spokesman Eben Burnham-Snyder confirmed in an email Dec. 13 that the agency will not be "turning over any individual names" to Trump's transition team, but will be "forthcoming with all publicly available information."

In a statement first reported by The Washington Post, Burnham-Snyder said the Energy Department received significant feedback from its workforce throughout the agency, including its National Laboratories, after the team's questions were released, some of which left many of the workers there "unsettled."

"Our career workforce, including our contractors and employees at our labs, comprise the backbone of DOE and the important work our department does to benefit the American people," Burnham-Snyder said. "We are going to respect the professional and scientific integrity and independence of our employees at our labs and across our department."

Trump's team, in a leaked memo Dec. 9, asked the Energy Department to draw up a list of employees who worked on President Barack Obama's climate policies. Specifically, the transition team asked for a list of Energy employees and contractors who attended United Nations climate meetings and those who helped to create the U.S. EPA's social cost of carbon metrics, which are used in federal regulations to estimate the damaging consequences of greenhouse gas emissions. The Trump advisers also asked "which programs within DOE are essential to meeting the goals of President Obama's Climate Action Plan."

Environmental advocates raised alarms that the incoming administration was conducting a "witch hunt" for employees who worked on programs and policies with which they disagree.

In addition to a request for a "complete list" of clean energy projects funded by the Energy Department, what role the agency plays in offshore wind development, and questions over whether any previously Energy-funded technologies "are currently offered in the market without any subsidy," the Trump transition team asked for "a full accounting" of the Energy Department loan program.

Also on Dec. 13, multiple media outlets reported that Trump selected former Texas governor Rick Perry as his nominee for secretary of energy. Before dropping out of the primary race against Trump in September 2015, Perry was critical of the president-elect, calling him a "cancer on conservatism." Perry later changed his stance, endorsing Trump and calling him "the people's choice." During his 2012 campaign for the Republican presidential nomination, Perry called for the elimination of the Energy Department, among other federal agencies.