Energy Department Denies Trump Team Request to Name Employees on Climate Policy

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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The Department of Energy said it won’t comply with a request from the Trump transition team to provide names of employees who worked on the Obama administration’s climate policy efforts.

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"The Department of Energy received significant feedback from our workforce throughout the department, including the National Labs, following the release of the transition team’s questions. Some of the questions asked left many in our workforce unsettled," Eben Burnham-Snyder, director of public affairs at the Energy Department said. "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. We are going to respect the professional and scientific integrity and independence of our employees at our labs and across our department."

"We will be forthcoming with all publicly available information with the transition team," he said. "We will not be providing any individual names to the transition team."

Last week, sources at the Energy Department said the agency received a 74-point memo, which was obtained by ABC News, from the Trump transition team.

The questionnaire asked for information on several Department of Energy programs and asks twice for lists of the names of staff members who worked on specific projects. One line item asked for names of any staff or contractors who attended international meetings on climate change run through the United Nations, such as the summit that produced the landmark Paris Agreement last year, signed by 116 countries to cut carbon pollution. A second question in the memo asks for names of personnel who attended domestic interagency meetings focused on the "social cost of carbon." Those working groups generated metrics and recommendations for the Obama administration to craft new regulations.

Other questions listed included: "Which programs within DOE are essential to meeting the goals of President Obama's Climate Action Plan?" and "Who 'owns' the work on international Clean Energy Ministerial and 'Mission Innovation' [a multinational effort to develop clean technology]?"

The White House defended the Energy Department’s decision to withhold the requested information.

"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 policy-making at the Department of Energy to replace the entire staff with each administration.

The Trump transition team did not respond to requests for comment.

Trump is expected to name former Texas Governor Rick Perry to lead the Department of Energy, senior Trump transition officials told ABC News.