Trump Team’s Memo Hints at Broad Shake-Up of U.S. Energy Policy

Advisers to President-elect Donald Trump are developing plans to reshape Energy Department programs, help keep aging nuclear plants online and identify staff who played a role in promoting President Barack Obama’s climate agenda.

The transition team has asked the agency to list employees and contractors who attended United Nations climate meetings, along with those who helped develop the Obama administration’s social cost of carbon metrics, used to estimate and justify the climate benefits of new rules.

The advisers are also seeking information on agency loan programs, research activities and the basis for its statistics, according to a five-page internal document circulated by the Energy Department on Wednesday. The document lays out 65 questions from the Trump transition team, sources within the agency said.

On the campaign trail, Trump promised to eliminate government waste, rescind “job-killing” regulations and cancel the Paris climate accord in which nearly 200 countries pledged to slash greenhouse gas emissions. Trump, though, hasn’t detailed specific plans for federal agencies. The document obtained by Bloomberg offers clues on where his administration may be headed on energy policy, based on the nature of questions involving the agency’s research agenda, nuclear program and national labs.

Loans, Incubators

Under Obama, the department played a major role advancing clean-energy technology through loan guarantees and incubators, while writing efficiency rules for appliances. The department leans heavily on tens of thousands of contractors, who supplement the work of its roughly 13,000 direct employees.
Two Energy Department employees who spoke on condition of anonymity confirmed the questionnaire and said agency staff were unsettled by the Trump team’s information request.

Tom Pyle, the head of Trump’s Energy Department landing team and president of the oil-industry-funded free-market advocacy group American Energy Alliance, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on the memo. Media representatives for the Trump transition and an Energy Department spokesperson also didn’t immediately respond to calls and e-mails seeking comment.

A person close to the transition team confirmed the questions Thursday. The person, who asked not to be identified because he isn’t authorized to speak publicly about the matter, praised the caliber of the Energy Department staff and cast the transition team’s effort as designed to ensure transparency on the formation of existing, Obama-era policy.

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