Update: On December 13, The Washington Post reported that Department of Energy officials have refused the transition team's request for the names of DOE employees and contractors who have worked on climate-related issues.
“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,” Eben Burnham-Snyder, a department spokesman, wrote in an email to the Post. “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," he wrote, adding boldface for emphasis.
After one month and a couple of shakeups, the Trump transition team is finally getting to work at the Department of Energy. And staff is already nervous.
This week, the Trump team sent around a list of 74 questions to leadership asking how different organizations within the $30 billion department operate.
GTM acquired the list of 65 questions. E&E News published an additional list that included government labs. Bloomberg initially broke the story on Thursday night, but did not publish the list outright.
Many of the questions are straightforward: "Where does EIA think most improvement is needed in its data and analyses?" Onlookers have been asking that question for some time.
Some of them suggest skepticism about the cost of renewables: "EIA's assessments of levelized costs for renewable technologies do not contain backup costs for the fossil fuel technologies that are brought on-line to replace the generation when those technologies are down. Is this is a correct representation of the true levelized costs?"
And a few of them are vaguely authoritarian: "Can you provide a list of Department employees or contractors who attended any of the Conference of the Parties in the last five years?"
(If that's not clear: The transition team wants a list of everyone in the organization who attended global climate talks. It also wants a list naming anyone who worked on identifying the social cost of carbon.)
According to one long-time DOE staffer who requested anonymity, asking for that kind of employee and contractor list "is absolutely not normal."
"Most people I have talked to just feel really uncomfortable with the line of questioning," said the source.
Others within DOE say the majority of other questions are normal and thoughtful -- and may be a good opportunity for the department to argue for the success of loan guarantees, advanced manufacturing, and other programs specific to renewable energy. However, they also expressed concern about the request for staff names.
Speculation about the Trump team's energy priorities has run rampant since the election. No one within the department knows what to expect, or how to read conflicting signals from the president-elect. Thomas Pyle, the new transition team leader, only arrived at DOE last week.
The leaked list of questions offers additional insight into how Trump's administration might run DOE. They plan to scrutinize data collection at EIA, examine ARPA-E's investments in emerging clean technologies, open the books on loan guarantees, place a much greater emphasis on nuclear power, and place less emphasis on climate priorities. They will also likely start cutting spending immediately.
2. Can you provide a complete list of ARPA-E's projects?
3. What statutory authority has been given to the Department with respect to cybersecurity?
4. What is the Department's role with respect to the development of offshore wind?
5. Can you offer more information about the EV Everywhere Grand Challenge?
6. EIA is an independent agency in DOE. How has EIA ensured its independence in your data and analysis over the past 8 years? In what instances do you think EIA's independence was most challenged?
7. Part of EIA's charter is to do analyses based on Congressional and Departmental requests. Has EIA denied or not responded to any of these requests over the last ten years?
8. EIA customarily has or had set dates for completions of studies and reports. In general, have those dates been adhered to?
9. In the Annual Energy Outlook 2016, EIA assumed that the Clean Power Plan should be in the reference case despite the fact that the reference case is based on existing laws and EIA regulations. Why did EIA make that assumption, which seems to be atypical of past forecasts?
10. EIA's assessments of levelized costs for renewable technologies do not contain back-up costs for the fossil fuel technologies that are brought on-line to replace the generation when those technologies are down. Is this is a correct representation of the true levelized costs?
11. Has EIA done analysis that shows that additional back-up generation is not needed? How does EIA analysis compare with other analyses on this issue?
12. Renewable andsolartechnologies are expected to need additional transmission costs above what fossil technologies need. How has EIA represented this in the AEO forecasts? What is the EIA magnitude of those transmission costs?
13. There are studies that show that your high resource and technology case for oil and gas represents the shale gas and oil renaissance far better than your reference case. Why has EIA not put those assumptions in your reference case?
14. Can you describe the number of personnel hired into management positions at EIA from outside EIA and compare it to the number of personnel hired into management positions at EIA who were currently serving at EIA?
15. How does EIA ensure quality in its data and analyses?
16. Where does EIA think most improvement is needed in its data and analyses?
17. We note that EIA added distributed solar estimations to your electricity data reports. Those numbers are not part of your supply/demand balance on a Btu basis. Why has that not been EIA updated accordingly?
18. How many vacancies does EIA have in management and staff positions? What plans, if any, does EIA have to fill those positions before January 20?
19. Is the EIA budget sufficient to ensure quality in data and analyses? If not, where does it fall EIA short?
20. Does EIA have cost comparisons of sources of electricity generation at the national level?
21. What is the plan for funding cleanup of Portsmouth and Paducah when the current uranium inventory designated for barter in exchange for cleanup services, is no longer available (excluding reinstating the UED&D fee on commercial nuclear industry or utilizing the USEC fund)?
22. What is the right funding level for EM to make meaningful progress across the complex and meet milestone and regulatory requirements?
23. What is the greatest opportunity for reduction in life cycle cost/return on investment?
24. Describe your alternatives to the ever increasing WTP cost and schedule, whether technical or programmatic?
25. With respect to EM, what program milestones will be reached in each of the next four years?
26. Are there plans to add staff to EM? What are your staffing priorities?
27. Can you provide a list of all Department of Energy employees or contractors who have attended any lnteragency Working Group on the Social Cost of Carbon meetings? Can you provide a list of when those meetings were and any materials distributed at those meetings, EPSA emails associated with those meetings, or materials created by Department employees or contractors in anticipation of or as a result of those meetings?
28. Did DOE or any of its contractors run the integrated assessment models (IAMs)? Did DOE pick the discount rates to be used with the IAMs? What was DOE's opinion on the proper discount EPSA rates used with the IAMs? What was DOE's opinion on the proper equilibrium climate sensitivity?
29. Which programs within DOE are essential to meeting the goals of President Obama's Climate Action Plan?
30. What is the statutory charge to the Department with respect to efficiency standards? Which products are subject to statutory requirements and which are discretionary to the Department?
31. Can you provide a list of all permitting authorities (and their authorizing statutes) currently held by DOE and their authorizing statutes?
32. Are there statutory restrictions related to reinvigorating the Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management?
33. Are there any statutory restrictions to restarting the Yucca Mountain project?
34. Does the Department have any thoughts on how to reduce the bureaucratic burden for exporting U.S. energy technology, including but not limited to commercial nuclear technology?
35. Can you provide a list of non-M&O procurements/awards that are currently pending and their status?
36. Does DOE have a plan to resume the Yucca Mountain license proceedings?
37. Which Assistant Secretary positions are rooted in statute and which exist at the discretion and delegation of the Secretary?
38. Can you provide a list of all Schedule C appointees, all non-career SES employees, and all Presidential appointees requiring Senate confirmation? Can you include their current position and how long they have served at the Department?
39. Is the number of Assistant Secretaries set by statute? Does the statute establish the number as a minimum or a maximum, or is it silent on the question?
40. Can you provide a list of Department employees or contractors who attended any of the Conference of the Parties (under the UNFCCC) in the last five years?
41. Can you provide a list of the Loan Program Office's outstanding loans, including the parties responsible for paying the loan back, term of the loan, and objective of the loan?
42. Can you provide a list of the Loan Program Office's outstanding loans, including the parties responsible for paying the loan back, term of the loan, and objective of the loan?
43. Can you provide a full accounting of DOE liabilities associated with any loan or loan guarantee programs?
44. The Department recently announced the issuance of $4.5 billion in loan guarantees for electric vehicles (and perhaps associated infrastructure). Can you provide a status on this effort?
45. Is there an assessment of the funds it would take to replace aging infrastructure in the complex? Is there a priority list of which facilities to be decommissioned?
46. Can you provide a list of all current open job postings and the status of those positions?
47. Can you provide a list of outstanding M&O contracts yet to be awarded for all DOE facilities and their current status?
48. What secretarial determinations/records of decisions are pending?
49. What should the incoming Administration do to balance risk, performance and ultimately completion in contracting?
50. What should this Administration do differently to make sure there are the right incentives to attract qualified contractors?
51. Can you provide a list of reports to Congress or other external parties that are due in 2017?
52. How can the DOE support existing reactors to continue operating as part of the nation's infrastructure?
53. What can DOE do to help prevent premature closure of plants?
54. How do you recommend continuing to supporting the licensing of Small Modular Reactors?
55. How best can DOE optimize its Advanced Reactor R&D activities to maximize their value proposition and work with investors to development and commercialize advanced reactors?
56. What is the Department's role with respect to JCPOA? Which office has the lead for the Department?
57. Can you provide a copy of any Participation Agreement under Section 1221 of EPAct signed by the Department?
58. What is the goal of the grid modernization effort? Is there some terminal point to this effort? Is its genesis statutory or something else?
59. Who "owns" the Mission Innovation and Clean Energy Ministerial efforts within the Department?
60. Does or can the Department delineate research activities as either basic or applied research?
61. Is there a readily available list of any technologies or products that have emerged from DOE programs or the labs that are currently offered in the market without any subsidy?
62. If DOE's topline budget in accounts other than the 050 account were required to be reduced 10% over the next four fiscal years (from the FY17 request and starting in FY18), does the Department have any recommendations as to where those reductions should be made?
63. How many fusion programs, both public and private, are currently being funded worldwide?
64. What mechanisms exist to help the national laboratories commercialize their scientific and technological prowess?
65. Which activities does the Department describe as commercialization programs or programs with the specific purpose of developing a technology for market deployment?
66. What independent evaluation panels does the lab have to assess the scientific value of its work? Who sits on these panels? How often do they hold sessions? Do they publish reports?
67. Can you provide a list of cooperative research and development grants (CRADAs) for the past five years? Please provide funding amounts, sources, and outcomes?
68. Can you provide a list of licensing agreements and royalty proceeds for the last five years?
69. Can you provide a list of the top twenty salaried employees of the lab, with total remuneration and the portion funded by DOE?
70. Can you provide a list of all peer-reviewed publications by lab staff for the past three years?
71. Can you provide a list of current professional society memberships of lab staff?
72. Can you provide a list of publications by lab staff for the past three years?
73. Can you provide a list of all websites maintained by or contributed to by laboratory staff during work hours for the past three years?
74. Can you provide a list of all other positions currently held by lab staff, paid and unpaid, including faculties, boards, and consultancies?