Kathleen Hartnett White is President Trump’s pick to run the Council on Environmental Quality. She is a climate change denier.
Harnett White, a senior fellow at the Koch brothers and Exxon-funded Texas Public Policy Foundation, “might be the most extreme and dangerous” climate change denying picks of Trumps, according to Credo Action.
The role of the Council on Environmental Quality, created in 1969 by the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), is to advise the President concerning environmental policy. NEPA oversees environmental permit applications. According to Credo Action, an extreme climate change denier like Harnett White leading the Council “could have an oversized and dangerous influence over permit applications for fossil fuel infrastructure projects.”
A "nightmare scenario"
Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune described Harnett White’s nomination as “the nightmare scenario for anyone who wants clean air and clean water, as her record makes clear she is completely ready and willing to sell out the health of our kids to corporate polluters.” He added that she “shouldn’t be allowed in the door at CEQ, let alone be allowed to run it.”
Harnett White has compared belief in climate change to paganism. In September 2016, she appeared on an online conservative show where she talked about climate change. “There's a real dark side of the kind of paganism -- the secular elites' religion now -- being evidently global warming,” she said.
During the same interview, she mentioned comments by the former executive secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, Christiana Figueres about China’s climate policies. She referenced Figueres remarks about being able to disrupt economic growth from fossil fuels. “We're talking about, you know, one-world state ruled by planetary managers, you know to kind of allocate our little portion of grub and energy, but they're open and adamant about it,” Harnett White said.
The more CO2, the better?
Harnett White wrote about the benefits of carbon dioxide, a greenhouse gas that contributes to climate change, in a 2014 piece for the Texas Public Policy Foundation. “Global warming alarmists are misleading the public about CO2 emissions,” she wrote. “Whether emitted from the human use of fossil fuels or as a natural (and necessary) gas in the atmosphere surrounding the earth, carbon dioxide has none of the attributes of a pollutant.”
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) in 2009 found that carbon emissions are a danger to human health because they cause climate change and ocean acidification. A study published in 2016 found that elevated carbon dioxide emissions have a harmful effect on plant life.
During an interview with the Washington Examiner in 2016, while serving as a member of Trump’s economic advisory council, Harnett White said that carbon dioxide “has no adverse impact in the air we breathe at all.” She described it as a “harmless trace gas that is actually an essential nutrient for plants.” She went on to say that the U.S. Congress should be the ones who address carbon emissions and “not experts at EPA.”
A fringe voice denying reality
Harnett White’s Senate confirmation hearing confirms her climate change denying beliefs
In early November, senators questioned Harnett White during her three-hour long nomination hearing. When asked if she believes the planet is getting warmer, she answered, “yes.” However, when asked if she believes that carbon dioxide levels have dramatically risen, she answered, “No, I would not say they’ve gone up drastically. I know they have risen from pre-industrial times.” During the same hearing, she also stated that concerning climate change causes, “There’s a credible difference of opinion among climate scientists.”
There is an overwhelming consensus among climate scientists concerning climate change causes. Ninety-seven percent or more of climate scientists agree that human activity has played a role in warming temperatures.
Senator Ed Markey (D-MA) said at one point during the Senate hearing:
“Your positions are so far out of the mainstream, they are not just outliers, they are outrageous. You have a fringe voice that denies science, economics, and reality.”