Along with all the paperwork that is involved in transitioning between Presidents, the Trump administration included a questionnaire to be filled out by all employees of the Department of Energy. The 74 question quiz asks employees to name colleagues who have attended meetings or taken actions regarding climate change. Given Trump’s controversial anti-scientific statements about climate change and the overall opinion of most of his party this has raised some concerns that he may be planning to retaliate against employees and scientists who’ve expressed concern over global warming and climate change.
Senator Ed Markey has issued a letter to the President elect to remind him that this sort of witch hunt is illegal in the US. Incoming administrations are not allowed to punish state officials for things that were done in good faith under a previous administration:
This request suggests that your administration may intend to retaliate against career employees who faithfully executed their responsibilities. … If any of this information is used to demote, sideline, terminate or otherwise discriminate against federal civil servants whose only ‘crime’ was to execute the lawful policy directives of their supervisors, then your administration would violate U.S. law that protects employees against such wrongful acts of retaliation.
The move is not unprecedented. Both Ronald Reagan and George W Bush took actions to cripple the scientific community’s involvement in environmental and energy policy. In both cases their efforts eventually blew up in their faces. Reagan was eventually investigated by Congress for having “hit lists” of employees who’s research tended not to favor his agenda. Bush Jr. was also investigated for threatening employees who spoke to the media about climate concerns. If this is something Trump seriously wants to implement then he’s going to have a long fight ahead of him. Reagan and Bush at least had the sense to keep their actions quiet.
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