The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Opinion The Democrats’ panic over climate questions speaks volumes

Former president Bill Clinton used to say, “If you know what you’re talking about, you don’t mind talking.” And it stands to reason that if you don’t know what you’re talking about, you will panic and hide when you are asked to talk. Well, the very idea that the Trump transition team is asking for the names of the government officials who worked on specific climate matters during their time in government service has sent the Democrats running for the hills. But merely being asked for the names of those who attended climate change conferences and participated in creating or studying climate change policy has been greeted as a threat and sent liberals in the government and in the media into a frenzy. Why are they so hypersensitive? Obama Energy Department officials have said they will not name any of the staffers who worked on climate change programs or even attended any such meetings, with Energy Department spokeswoman Eben Burnhan-Snyder saying the inquiries from the Trump transition had “left many in our workforce unsettled.” Seriously? Asking who did the work around there is out of bounds? Again, the Energy Department is refusing to answer questions about who did what to formulate the policies that we now live with. They would rather go into hiding than matter-of-factly and proudly explain their work. Why could that be? It confirms so much of what Republicans suspect about the Obama administration. (Disclosure: My firm represents interests in the fossil-fuel and nuclear-power industries.)

Perhaps it is because during the Obama years, work on climate change issues all started from a mandated conclusion: That manmade global warming was settled science and that it was bad and getting worse. Researchers quickly determined where the money was, and they knew the more alarming the study or findings from a working group, the better.

All the hiding and panic speaks to a government that is out of control. How can it be that people won’t admit they even attended a specific meeting? It’s certainly the first time in my memory that one administration has affirmatively tried to hide their work from the next administration. So exactly what is it the Obama forces are hiding? Why have they gone silent in the face of a simple initial inquiry? There are plenty of safeguards in government to prevent retribution, so that isn’t really what this sudden fear is all about. And, the fact that scientists have “begun a feverish attempt to copy reams of government data onto independent servers” because they are worried about being denied “irreplaceable public data” also seems just a little paranoid and adds to the intrigue.

This matter should not be settled with a shrug and everyone moving on. Congress should ready the subpoenas and send them to a receptive Trump administration that will finally begin to determine the truth about just how biased and forced the so-called “climate research” has been in the past eight years.