Trump Memo Reveals Plans For Massive Shake-Up At Energy Department

According to a memo from Trump's energy advisors, and obtained by Bloomberg, the new administration will be seeking significant changes to Obama's Energy Department.  Per Bloomberg, the Trump team submitted a list of 65 questions to the agency that requested information on everything from how to keep aging nuclear plants online to a list of employees and contractors that attended the United Nations climate meetings and helped develop Obama's climate change policies. 

Advisers to President-elect Donald Trump are developing plans to reshape Energy Department programs, help keep aging nuclear plants online and identify staff who played a role in promoting President Barack Obama’s climate agenda.

 

The transition team has asked the agency to list employees and contractors who attended United Nations climate meetings, along with those who helped develop the Obama administration’s social cost of carbon metrics, used to estimate and justify the climate benefits of new rules. The advisers are also seeking information on agency loan programs, research activities and the basis for its statistics, according to a five-page internal document circulated by the Energy Department on Wednesday. The document lays out 65 questions from the Trump transition team, sources within the agency said.

The Obama administration's policies targeted at providing loan guarantees to "clean-energy incubators" are set to receive significant scrutiny according to the list of questions.  Many such projects were funded by the "Advanced Research Projects Agency" which has provided $1.3 billion in funding over 7 years for everything from batteries to biofuel production to wind turbines.

Under Obama, the department played a major role advancing clean-energy technology through loan guarantees and incubators, while writing efficiency rules for appliances. The department leans heavily on tens of thousands of contractors, who supplement the work of its roughly 13,000 direct employees.

 

The transition team questions includes perfunctory requests to identify current advisory committees, pending procurement decisions and positions subject to Senate confirmation — information critical to ensuring the agency’s functions before and after Trump is sworn in.

 

The document also signals which of the department’s agencies could face the toughest scrutiny under the new administration. Among them: the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy, a 7-year-old unit that has been a critical instrument for the Obama administration to advance clean-energy technologies.

 

Since going into operation in 2009, ARPA-E, as it is known, has provided about $1.3 billion in funding to more than 475 projects involving grid-scale batteries, power storage, biofuel production, wind turbines and other technology, according to a May report on the agency. Trump’s energy landing team is seeking “a complete list of ARPA-E’s projects” and wants information about the “Mission Innovation” and “Clean Energy Ministerial” efforts within the department.

Trump Energy

 

The memo also hints at plans to go after funding for technologies that only exist courtesy of taxpayer-funded subsidies.

The group also questions whether any technologies or products that have emerged from Energy Department programs “are currently offered in the market without any subsidy” and asks “what mechanisms exist to help the national laboratories commercialize their scientific and technological prowess.”

 

The Energy Information Administration, the department’s statistical arm, is the subject of at least 15 questions that probe its staffing, data and analytical decisions, including whether its forecasts underestimate future U.S. oil and gas production. EIA staff also are asked how they account for added costs to transmit and back-up renewable power.

Meanwhile, Trump advisors are also probing ways to extend the life of aging U.S. nuclear power plants and revive a long-stalled plan to store spent radioactive material in Nevada's Yucca Mountain.

The document shows Trump advisers contemplating ways to keep aging U.S. nuclear power plants on line, including by addressing concerns about the long-term storage of spent radioactive material. “How can the DOE support existing reactors to continue operating,” and “what can DOE do to help prevent premature closure of plants?” the transition team asks.

 

Trump advisers have been weighing how to revive a long-stalled plan to stash radioactive waste at Nevada’s Yucca Mountain. In the document, they ask if there are any statutory restrictions to restarting that project or reinvigorating an Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management that was responsible for disposing of spent nuclear material.

Another component of Obama's legacy down the drain.