The Department of Energy (DOE) nixed one of its many duplicative foreign climate change offices Thursday to streamline the agency responsible for managing the country’s nuclear arsenal.
Nearly a dozen members of the Office of International Climate and Technology were released so the Trump administration could cut bloat from within the DOE. The office was opened in 2010 to help allies across the world kick-start technology reducing greenhouse gasses.
Employees in the office are part of the so-called Clean Energy Ministerial, a small collective of polluting nations such as China and India. Their sole focus was to develop technology fighting man-made climate change.
The department is “looking for ways to consolidate the many duplicative programs that currently exist within DOE,” a spokesman for the agency told reporters, adding that the Office of International Climate and Technology would close as well.
Another agency official said that the move was made because the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) already has an international affairs team. The International Affairs Office, meanwhile, has a renewable team, according to DOE spokeswoman Shaylyn Hynes.
“The Department is looking for ways to eliminate this kind of unnecessary duplication — just like any responsible American business would,” she told reporters. Environmentalists cried foul and suggested the move was akin to thrusting the U.S. into the dark ages.
“Willfully ignoring the climate crisis is recklessly and unnecessarily dangerous for families and communities across the country, and it’s clear that Trump will stop at nothing to completely isolate the United States,” said John Coequyt, an activist with environmental group Sierra Club, according to The Hill.
The move comes shortly after President Donald Trump made the decision on June 3 to bail from the non-binding Paris agreement on climate change, an international accord forged to prevent the Earth’s temperature from increasing above 2 degrees Celsius.
Trump promised during the presidential campaign to rollback former President Barack Obama’s trove of climate regulations, as well as withdraw the U.S. from the Paris agreement. He said Obama poorly negotiated the deal and did not put American workers first.
The DOE’s decision to shutter the Office of International Climate and Technology followed Secretary of Energy Rick Perry’s attendance at the most recent Clean Energy Ministerial in China. The agency did not respond to reporter’s request for comment.
The Trump administration’s move also comes after the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) removed “outdated language” from its website in May, the night before activists planned protests targeting the Trump administration’s climate policies.
EPA spokesman J.P Freire told reporters at the time that the content was scrubbed because the website “needs to reflect the views of the leadership of the agency.” It has maintained records of the archived portions of the Obama-era pages it scrubbed.
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