Trump team says Energy Department questionnaire "was not authorized"

The Department of Water and Power (DWP) San Fernando Valley Generating Station in Sun Valley, Calif. is seen in this Dec. 11, 2008 file photo.

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President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team said a controversial Energy Department questionnaire, which asked for the names of employees involved in the agency’s climate change efforts, “was not authorized.” 

The statement from the transition team further said the person responsible had been “counseled.”

Environmentalists were outraged last week by the questionnaire the Trump transition team sent to the Energy Department that asked for a list of staffers who worked on climate change -- a request the administration refused out of concern it could be used to try to purge climate-change believers.

“We will be forthcoming with all publicly-available information with the transition team,” spokesperson Eben Burnham-Snyder said in a statement Tuesday. But, “[w]e will not be providing any individual names to the transition team.”

On Tuesday, the White House backed up the Energy Department’s position. 

“Our principle -- this is a principle that presidents of both parties have long abided by -- is that we should observe the protections that are in place that ensure that career civil servants are evaluated based on merit and not on politics,” White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest told reporters.

“I’m sure the President-elect used the same kind of criteria when choosing his new Department of Energy secretary as well,” Earnest added.

The questionnaire, obtained by CBS News on Friday, asked questions including, “Which programs within [the Department of Energy] are essential to meeting the goals of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan?” Another one asked recipients, “Can you provide a list of all Department of Energy employees or contractors who have attended any Interagency Working Group on the Social cost of Carbon meetings?”