President-elect Donald Trump's Energy Department transition team sent the agency a memo this week asking for the names of people who have worked on climate change and the professional society memberships of lab workers, alarming employees and advisors.
The memo sent to the Energy Department on Tuesday and seen by Reuters on Friday, contains 74 questions including a request for a list of all department employees and contractors who attended the annual global climate talks hosted by the United Nations within the last five years.
It asked for a list of all department employees or contractors who have attended any meetings on the social cost of carbon, a measurement that federal agencies use to weigh the costs and benefits of new energy and environment regulations. It also asked for all publications written by employees at the department's 17 national laboratories for the past three years.
"This feels like the first draft of an eventual political enemies list," said a Department of Energy employee, who asked not to be identified because he feared a reprisal by the Trump transition team.
"When Donald Trump said he wanted to drain the swamp it apparently was just to make room for witch hunts and it's starting here at the DOE and our 17 national labs," the employee said.
Trump transition team officials declined to comment on the memo, which was first reported by Bloomberg.
Republican Trump, a New York businessman and former reality TV star who has never previously held public office, said during his election campaign that climate change was a hoax perpetrated by China to damage U.S. manufacturing. He said he would rip up last year's landmark global climate deal struck in Paris that was signed by Democratic President Barack Obama.
Since winning the Nov. 8 election, however, Trump has confused observers by saying he will keep an "open mind" about the Paris deal. He also met with former Vice President Al Gore, a strong advocate for action on climate change.
Contenders to head the Energy Department under Trump include Kevin Cramer, a Republican U.S. representative from oil producing North Dakota, Senator Heidi Heitkamp, a Democrat from the same state, and Joe Manchin, a Democrat from coal-producing West Virginia.