"The questionnaire was not authorized or part of our standard protocol. The person who sent it has been properly counseled," a Trump transition official told CNN Wednesday.
The Trump team has been criticized for asking for the names of federal government employees working on climate change issues. The vast majority of scientists have repeatedly concluded human activity has contributed to climate change. At least 97% of actively publishing climate scientists agree that "climate-warming trends over the past century are extremely likely due to human activities," according to NASA.
"Any employee of the Department of Energy that has been working on climate science over the last 8 years is actually doing their job. It would be irresponsible not to deal with the issue," Massachusetts Sen. Ed Markey Wednesday told CNN's Carol Costello on "Newsroom."
"And now what we're seeing is an inquiry by the Trump Transition Team that goes right to the heart of the integrity of the science," he added.
Top Democratic lawmakers on the Oversight and Energy and Commerce committees sent a letter to Vice President-elect Mike Pence demanding more information on Trump staffers requesting more information on the Energy Department employees working on climate change.
"While the new Administration is entitled to select political appointees who share the President-Elect's views on climate change, any effort to retaliate against, undermine, demote, or marginalize civil servants on the basis of their scientific analysis would be an abuse of authority," the letter said.
An Energy Department spokesman, informed of the Trump team's comments Wednesday, said the questionnaire issue is a matter for the transition team and the career officials at DOE who work on the transition process.
The Obama administration Tuesday rejected the request by Trump's team for more information on employees.
"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 said.
"I'm sure the President-elect used the same kind of criteria when choosing his new Department of Energy secretary as well," he said, smiling. "Don't you think?"
Trump aide: "Scientific community gets 'a lot of things wrong'"
Trump's views on climate change, along with his picks to run the Energy Department and Environmental Protection Agency, are under scrutiny.
Anthony Scaramucci, a Wall Street investor and member of Donald Trump's Presidential Transition Team Executive Committee, said the scientific community gets a lot of things wrong during a conversation about climate change.
"I know that the current president believes that human beings are affecting the climate," he told CNN's Chris Cuomo Wednesday on "New Day." "There are scientists that believe that that's not happening."
"There was overwhelming science that the earth was flat and there was an overwhelming science that we were the center of the world," Scaramucci added. "We get a lot of things wrong in the scientific community."
In an interview Sunday, Trump dismissed the conclusions of the vast majority of scientist studying climate change.
"Nobody really knows" if climate change is real, Trump said in the "Fox News Sunday" interview, after host Chris Wallace asked the President-elect where he stands on the environment.
"I'm still open-minded. Nobody really knows," he added. "Look, I'm somebody that gets it, and nobody really knows. It's not something that's so hard and fast."