Trump Transition Backs Away From Controversial Questionnaire to Energy Department

PHOTO: The James Forrestal Building, headquarters of the U.S. Department of Energy is pictured on Independence Avenue, Washington, D.C. on Sept. 10, 2011.PlayCarol M. Highsmith/Buyenlarge/Getty Images
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Donald Trump's transition team is backing away from a controversial questionnaire sent to the Department of Energy demanding names of employees who assisted in the Obama administration's climate policy efforts.

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ABC News obtained last week the 74-point memo, which asks for names of staff members who worked on climate-related projects.

The Department of Energy hit back on Tuesday with a statement saying that the memo "left many in our workforce unsettled" and that it would not comply with questions asking for names of individuals.

DOE officials "respect the professional and scientific integrity and independence of our employees at our labs and across our department," agency spokesman Eben Burnham-Snyder said in a statement.

The Trump transition team has repeatedly declined to respond to ABC News' requests for comment, but in a statement to ABC News today, an official said, "The questionnaire was not authorized or part of our standard protocol. The person who sent it has been properly counseled."

The transition team's decision to back away from the questionnaire comes just hours after the team announced former Texas Gov. Rick Perry as Trump's choice to head the Department of Energy.

The White House defended the Energy Department’s decision to withhold the information requested by the unnamed transition official.

"There were reports about what certainly could have been an attempt to target civil servants, career federal government employees," White House press secretary Josh Earnest said.

"Their work transcends the term of any one president. That's by design," he continued, saying that it would undermine effective policymaking at the Department of Energy to replace the entire staff with each administration.

ABC News' Arlette Saenz and MaryAlice Parks contributed to this report.

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