The Department of Energy said Tuesday it will reject the request by President-elect Donald TrumpDonald Trump Martin Luther King's daughter: 'God can triumph over Trump' Trump: Monday will be day one of administration Trump's navy build-up comes with steep price tag MORE’s transition team to name staffers who worked on climate change programs.
Energy spokesman Eben Burnhan-Snyder said the agency received “significant feedback” from workers regarding a questionnaire from the transition team that leaked last week.
“Some of the questions asked left many in our workforce unsettled,” Snyder said.
The survey for department leadership included more than 70 questions regarding what the agency does, its workforce, costs, professional affiliations and more.
But it also asked for a list of employees who worked on various climate change priorities in President Obama’s administration, including the Paris climate agreement and the social cost of carbon, an accounting measure for the costs of climate change.
That led to fears that Trump’s administration was undertaking a “witch hunt” to single out those workers.
“We are going to respect the professional and scientific integrity and independence of our employees at our labs and across our department,” Burnham-Snyder said in the Tuesday statement, first reported by The Washington Post.
“We will be forthcoming with all publicly-available information with the transition team. We will not be providing any individual names to the transition team.”
The head of the union for workers at the Energy Department's Washington headquarters had also expressed concern with the questionnaire.
“My members are upset and have questions about what this means. These are all civil servants who do their jobs,” Tony Reardon, national president of the National Treasury Employees Union, said in a statement.
“They have no wish to be caught up in political winds — they are nonpartisan employees — scientists, engineers, statisticians, economists and financial experts — who were hired for their knowledge and they bring their talent and experience to the job every day,” he said, adding that the union “will do all it can to ensure that merit system rules are followed.”
Laws and regulations regarding civil service workers make it illegal to fire or punish workers for political purposes, even when an administration changes.