Before he left office, President Barack Obama instructed thousands of people throughout his administration, including about 50 experts inside the Department of Energy, to collect all knowledge that his successor would need. The Bush administration had done the same for him, and he knew how helpful it would be for the next president to “understand the government he or she was taking charge of,” reports Michael Lewis.
“Donald Trump’s secretary of energy, Rick Perry, once campaigned to abolish the $30 billion agency that he now runs, which oversees everything from our nuclear arsenal to the electrical grid,” Lewis points out.
So who was the first man the Trump administration sent to the DOE? A man named Thomas Pyle, who just happened to be president of the American Energy Alliance, a DC propaganda machine funded by ExxonMobil and Koch Industries, says Lewis. Pyle also “served as a Koch Industries lobbyist and ran a side business writing editorials attacking the D.O.E.’s attempts to reduce the dependence of the American economy on carbon.”
“It’s a $30-billion-a-year organization with about 110,000 employees. Industrial sites across the country. Very serious stuff. If you’re going to run it, why wouldn’t you want to know something about it?” wonders Kevin Knobloch, the DOE chief of staff.
Pyle, however, attended one meeting, for about one hour, did not take notes, and did not ask any questions. He never returned. When Pyle finally sent over a list of 74 questions, he seemed most concerned with rooting out employees and contractors who had attended “any Interagency Working Group on the Social Cost of Carbon meetings” and those who had “attended any of the Conference of the Parties (under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change) in the last five years.”
“They were just looking for dirt, basically,” said one of the employees who briefed the team on national-security issues.
And to this day, under Secretary Perry, the Trump administration doesn’t seem to grasp, according to a former DOE employee, “how much more than just energy the Department of Energy” is about, notes Lewis.