Trump Withdraws Controversial Environmental Advisor Nominee
White House officials have confirmed that the nomination of Kathleen Hartnett-White as the head of the White House’s Council of Environmental Quality would be withdrawn following controversies over her past comments on climate change and science, as well as her lack of support in the Senate.
Hartnett-White was previously appointed by then-governor Rick Perry as chairman of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, where she stayed for six years; Hartnett-White is also a senior fellow at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, whose donors include Koch Industries.
Opposition to her nomination as a key environmental and energy policy advisor mounted following past comments she made regarding a variety of climate-related issues surfaced to the public.
Hartnett-White has previously criticized the International Panel on Climate Change’s scientific consensus on climate change being driven by human activities, by disagreeing with the IPCC’s assertion that humanity is at the precipice of a climate disaster. She has also previously criticized the need for carbon emission limits and called carbon dioxide the “gas of life”.
She also previously claimed that belief in climate change is akin to a “kind of paganism” and that the UN’s climate change endeavors are part of a conspiracy to create a one-world government. She also supported coal in a 2014 blog post by linking it with the abolishment of slavery.
As the chairman of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, she voted for new coal plants to be built near Dallas despite broad opposition from numerous city officials. She was also accused of under-reporting radiation levels in water and criticized for not consistently going after polluters in a 2003 state audit.
A main factor in the White House dropping her nomination stems from her controversial confirmation hearings in front of the Senate. She failed to answer key scientific questions like one regarding heat levels in oceans, and submitted answers that were copied directly from answers previously submitted by EPA administrator Scott Pruitt during his own nomination process.
She attempted to backtrack on her past comments during the hearings and defended herself by claiming that they were taken out of context. At one point during the hearings, she admitted that it was possible that she made mistakes on her past papers. This followed Oregon Senator Jeff Merkley’s (D-OR) questioning of Hartnett-White on her comment on calling climate scientists “Marxists”.
Hartnett-White also drew controversy with some Republican senators hailing from agricultural states due to her support for repealing federal standards that require fuel to be mixed with ethanol, which is made from corn.