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Did President Trump ask for the names of Energy Department employees who worked on climate issues?

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Yes.

Donald Trump's transition team has asked for all the names of those employees and contractors have worked on forging an international climate. Trump is also trying to eliminate the use of a social cost of carbon metric.

Background

President Donald Trump's transition team proposed 74 questions given to the Department of Energy. One of these questions was asking agency officials to identify which employees and contractors have worked on forging an international climate. In the NYTimes article it explains how our president Trump had already committed to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide pollution. President Trump cannot take the desire of the other countries to fulfill what they already committed to, but he can remove the US. By removing the US, it is said that the planet is more than likely going to go into a dangerous warming zone that we won't be able to re-establish to normal. It is also mentioned that the US plays a big role on motivating other governments to reduce their carbon dioxide pollution because if US is not part of it more than likely others won't carry out with the plan either. The US would account for about 20% of reductions from 2016-2030. President Trump also wants to take the Clean Power Plan away, which Obama was set to close hundreds of coal-fired power plants and replace with wind and solar farms. By 2030 it was estimated to cut 32% of the US emissions. Maybe at the end of the day Trump cannot take it away, but he can postpone any advancements in this area.

In this article, it explains how our president Trump had vowed to omit the Paris Climate Agreement in which 190 countries had already committed to reduce emissions of carbon dioxide pollution. President Trump cannot take the desire of the other countries to fulfill what they already committed to, but he can remove the United States. By removing the United States, it is said that the planet is more than likely going to go into a dangerous warming zone that we won't be able to re-establish to normal. It is also mentions that the U.S. plays a big role on motivating other governments to reduce their carbon dioxide pollution because if U.S. is not part of it more than likely others won't carry out with the plan either. The U.S. would account for about 20% of reductions from 2016-2030.

-President Trump also wants to take the Clean Power Plan away, which Obama was set to close hundreds of coal-fired power plants and replace with wind and solar farms. By 2030, it was estimated to cut 32% of the U.S. emissions. Maybe at the end of the day, Trump cannot take it away, but he can postpone any advancements in this area.

Origin and Prevalence

This claim was first noted in an article on Vox titled, "Trump's team is asking for the names of Energy Department employees who worked on climate issues". In the Vox article, it states that the memo of questions was first released in an article on Bloomberg titled, "Trump Team Memo Hints at Big Shake-Up of U.S. Energy Policy" This claim has also been asserted in an article found on Washington Post titled, "Trump transition team for Energy Department seeks names of employees involved in climate meetings". The National Public Radio also wrote an article about the claim and reported that Trump "wants to know who at the Department of Energy attended domestic and international climate talks. It wants emails about those conferences. It also asks about money spent on loan-guarantee programs for renewable energy." Fox News states that "The detailed questionnaire seeks a list of all political appointees and senior executives and asks employees to offer their opinions on who "owns" the department's clean energy mission and other policy goals."

There were no claims made of President Trump increasing the speed of climate change with his policies before November 10, 2016. An article published by Factcheck.com on November 2, 2016 is the oldest article to date that looks at President Trump's stance on climate change. The article expressed that Trump had repeatedly doubted the science behind climate change and how his policy proposals displayed his doubt. President Trump gave a speech in Hilton Head, South Carolina on December 30, 2015 and in that speech he stated, "Obama's talking about all of this with the global warming and… a lot of it's a hoax, it's a hoax. I mean, it's a money-making industry, OK? It's a hoax, a lot of it" (Trump). According to Hoaxy, so far this claim has been retweeted 1681 times and has been shared on Facebook 5222 times. The article also mentions that although Trump denied that climate change is real as a presidential candidate, as a businessman he has taken the position that climate change is real. In May, an article published by Politico reported that Trump International Golf Links Ireland applied for a permit to build a seawall to protect the Irish golf course from global warming and its effects. The article also discussed how President Trump plans to eliminate the clean power plan that Obama put into place. In a speech he gave in New York on September 15, 2016, Trump stated "I will eliminate all needless and job-killing regulations now on the books – and there are plenty of them. This includes … scrapping the EPA's so-called Clean Power Plan." Per Hoaxy, this claim has been propagated across the internet 2773 times in total.

Issues and Analysis

This claim was first reported in an article on Bloomberg titled, "Trump Team Memo Hints at Big Shake-Up of U.S Policy".

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

This claim was also repeated in an article from Vox titled, "Trump's team is asking for the names of Energy Department employees who worked on climate issues:

Donald Trump's presidential transition team has asked the Department of Energy for the names of any federal employees who worked on certain aspects of climate policy during the Obama administration

The Vox article even goes so far to post a picture from a tweet that has a picture of the questionnaire that was sent which shows this question actually being asked.

In the Bloomberg article, it talks about the memo of questions Trump gave to the DOE. This article states similar information to the original article from Vox.

The article from Vox states,

Indeed, it's unclear why this would even be necessary. "It reads more like a subpoena than a request for information," says Michael Halpern, deputy director for the Center for Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists. "I've never seen transition teams asking for list of civil service employees.

Comparing this statement with a statement from the article in Bloomberg:

"In response to news of the document, Senator Ed Markey, a Democrat from Massachusetts, sent a letter to Trump warning that any punishment of agency workers carrying out policies his administration doesn't agree with "would be tantamount to an illegal modern-day political witch hunt, and would have a profoundly chilling impact on our dedicated federal workforce.""

Here we see that both articles assert similar information about the claim made. Similar enough that even the Vox article uses the same term as the Bloomberg article:

" — a request that has some onlookers worried about a "modern-day political witch hunt.""

A article put out by Fox News claims "The Energy Department has a $32 billion annual budget, yet the bulk of its workforce — nearly 100,000 employees — are supplied by private contractors. The agency has 14,000 government employees."

Business Insider reported that Trump denies any allegation that he requested the names of the DOE employees that worked on climate change.

"The questionnaire was not authorized or part of our standard protocol," Trump spokesman Sean Spicer said. "The person who sent it has been properly counseled."

The author, Coral Davenport, provided scientific reports on how the planet's temperature is rising and a study by Climate Interactive, as evidence for her claim President Donald Trump is increasing the speed of climate change with his regulatory policies on the environment. This section will derive information from the data/studies in the article to determine the accuracy of the author's claims.

To begin with, Davenport cited multiple scientific reports that human activities are a large reason why the last two years have been the hottest on record. Looking at the vast amount of current studies done on climate change has supported her claim that human/government involvement has contributed to global temperature change. For example, in a joint report by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and NASA has found a 1.78-degree jump over the mid-20th -century average. NASA in their study found the planet has warmed to 1.1 degree Celsius, which is concerning due to many environmentalist's wanting the temperature not to go above the warming threshold of 1.5 degree Celsius. Both studies indicate the upward trend in temperature has been occurring since the early 2000's due to the steady increase of greenhouse gases emitting into the atmosphere from transportation or burning of fossil fuel. I believe Davenport could have made a stronger case by using numerical data in this section of the article and not using vague references on the research behind her assertion that human activity was the cause of climate change. This would have helped the reader understand the significant impact the world is facing by seeing the dangerous spikes in temperature and give a statistical analysis on how humans are affecting climate change.

Secondly, Davenport cited a study by Climate Interactive that the United States would have accounted for 20 percent of the expected greenhouse gas reductions under the Paris plan from 2016 to 2030. According to Climate Interactive data, the United States is the second-largest greenhouse emitter, behind China. Their research shows that if the United States does not participate in Paris Climate Agreement, the world will have difficult time slowing the global temperature increase. To achieve the estimates proposed in the Paris agreement would take U.S. reducing their own emissions of greenhouse gasses and engaging other countries in emission reduction through diplomacy, finance, and collaboration. The Climate Interactive ran a simulator on what would happen if United States did not participate in the agreement, with temperature rising to 2.4 degrees Celsius if all countries participating cut their emission and U.S. did not participate. In another simulation where it had full U.S. involvement, the global temperature lowers to 1.9 degree Celsius. U.S. support will help prevent the increase of drastic weather events from occurring throughout the world like rising sea levels, extreme droughts, and powerful floods. The information used by Davenport was correct on the type of large role United State plays in greenhouse gas emissions and how significant their role needs to be in order to reduce the world's overall global emissions/temperature. What was surprising to me was Davenport only covering how climate change will affect a small segment of time and not reporting the impact it will have decades from now. By not incorporating the simulations performed by Climate Interactive, the reader does not get a full understanding of the significant impact America could have on the world by pulling out of the Paris agreement. Davenport could have exemplified through the research directly how President Trump's policies are affecting not just the United States, but also the entire world.


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