President Donald Trump nominated last Wednesday former Texas environmental regulator Kathleen Hartnett White as nominee to the highest position of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, a board that advises the president on environmental issues and coordinates federal environment reviews and initiatives.
According to The Hill, Hartnett White is “an outspoken climate change skeptic and has raised questions about the science behind not just carbon emissions but also other greenhouse gases and pollutants.” Senators from both parties criticized Trump’s top environmental pick, and raised concerns about her nomination using past statements on climate change and other environmental issues.
At the nominee’s confirmation hearing, Democrat Senator Tom Carper (Del.) said that Hartnett White “has shown that she is not only a science denier, but actively promotes misinformation on climate, ozone, mercury, particulate matter and other known health hazards that impact our air and waterways.” He also noted that the nominee had equated belief in climate change to “paganism,” and highlighted her statement about the pollutant ozone not being harmful unless “you put your mouth over the tailpipe of a car for eight hours every day.”
At that hearing, Hartnett White expressed her doubts about the link between climate change and human activity, saying “I’m not a scientist, but in my personal capacity, I have many questions that remain unanswered by current climate policy,” and “I think we indeed need to have more precise explanations of the human role and the natural role.” She also answered questions from senators regarding other environmental issues such as the loss of artic ice, fossil fuel pollution, emissions, or dying coral reef.
According to the Washington Post, “Hartnett White’s history of statements challenging science and policy on climate change is extensive, and she did not substantially back away from that skepticism at the hearing.” The nominee to lead the board has long written critically about the science of climate change and about domestic and international attempts to take action on emissions. In April 2016, she wrote an article titled “Signing the Paris Agreement is the Worst Way to Celebrate Earth Day,” and in which she said “that a majority of the world’s nations would sign an agreement ‘recognizing that climate change represents an urgent and potentially irreversible threat’ requiring an accelerated, ‘deep reduction’ in global greenhouse gas emissions is, indeed, an unprecedented but tragic event in mankind’s history.”
According to The Hill, Hartnett White “defended her nomination by highlighting her time as chair of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (CEQ), saying she worked to enforce environmental laws in the state and help it conform with federal pollution regulations.”