Thursday, December 15, 2016

The witches in Energy

The Trump Transition Team knows there are witches in the Department of Energy, by golly, and they are going to expose them, discredit them, and hound them out of the government. They have a model in mind - McCarthy’s witch hunts of the 50s.

Fast forward to 2016, the witches now are scientists working on climate change. Trump’s team is trying to get the Energy department to self-identify and report the names of those scientists. To its credit, the Energy department just said NO. (Cut to visual image of raised middle finger.)

Here’s some of the report by the Washington Post, Energy Dept. rejects Trump’s request to name climate-change workers, who remain worried.

Global warming — “it’s a hoax.”

Donald Trump has said that more than once.

So it’s understandable that the request by the president-elect’s transition team for the names of individual Energy Department employees and contractors who worked on the issue makes them worry that the trick could be on them.

The scientists and their colleagues at Energy know global warming is real. What they don’t know is what Trump might do to those whose work has been in line with the science and the Obama administration, which has spoken about “the real and urgent threat of climate change.”

Perhaps Trump’s crew will do nothing. Trump more recently has said he has an open mind about global warming, so maybe he’s discarding his flat-Earth approach to the subject. Nonetheless, the transition team’s request to “provide a list of all Department of Energy employees or contractors who have attended” certain climate change meetings casts a shroud of apprehension over the workforce. The transition team ignored a request for comment. (Scriber’s emphasis added.)

Given civil service protections, it’s not likely department employees would be fired for working on climate change. There is good reason for concern, however. Trump advisers have urged him to fire feds faster, and Energy staffers know that protections for senior executives at the Department of Veterans Affairs have been weakened. But firing isn’t the only way to punish people.

“A greater concern would be that selected employees could be marginalized, i.e., ignored, by new leadership at the department solely based on unfounded conjecture that those employees cannot be trusted by the new political team,” said John Palguta, a civil service expert with decades of federal government experience. “The consequences for contract employees could be greater if a future decision not to renew a contract is influenced by the same unsupported speculation.”

On the question of providing names, Energy officials resolutely rejected the request, while reassuring workers.

“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,” said Eben Burnham-Snyder, a department spokesman. “Our career workforce, including our contractors and employees at our labs, comprise the backbone of DOE (Department of Energy) 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 publically-available information with the transition team. *We will not be providing any individual names to the transition team.*” Burnham-Snyder’s email had the last sentence in boldface for emphasis.

That’s the response members of Congress, who were outraged by Trump’s request, wanted.

That is, some of them.

“This looks like a scare tactic to intimidate federal employees who are simply doing their jobs and following the facts,” added Rep. Elijah E. Cummings (Md.), the top Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. …

Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) did not respond to a request for comment.

Of course not.

P. S. Why Perry is very scary

FiveThirtyEight reports via email on About 60 percent.

Percentage of the Department of Energy’s budget that goes to the National Nuclear Security Administration. Which makes Donald Trump’s decision to nominate former Texas Gov. Rick Perry to run Energy a bit weird. Texas is an energy-rich state, so Perry has a lot of experience with those industries. But, despite its name, the Department of Energy spends much of its time focused on designing, securing and preventing the proliferation of nuclear weapons. The New York Times (Emphasis added.)

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