Trump taps climate skeptic to lead White House environment office

Trump taps climate skeptic to lead White House environment office
© Greg Nash

President Trump has nominated a skeptic of climate change science to lead the White House’s environmental policy board.

The White House late Thursday announced that Trump picked Kathleen Hartnett White to serve as a member, and eventually chairwoman, of the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ).

White is a fellow for energy and environment issues at the Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF) and the former chairwoman of the state’s Commission on Environmental Quality.

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But her views on climate change do not align with the scientific consensus, which says greenhouse gas emissions produced by human activity is the driving factor behind a dangerous warming trend around the globe.

At the TPPF — which has received funding from the fossil fuel industry — White led a project to “explain the forgotten moral case for fossil fuels,” and she has written that carbon dioxide is the gas “that makes life possible on the earth and naturally fertilizes plant growth.”

“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,” she wrote in a 2014 paper that argued “global warming alarmists are misleading the public about carbon dioxide emissions.”

She was also a critic of the Obama administration’s environmental initiatives, calling them a “deluded and illegitimate battle against climate change” in an op-ed for The Hill last year and arguing against regulations like the Clean Power Plan rule for power plants.

CEQ advises the president on environmental matters and ensures federal agencies comply with the National Environmental Policy Act, which requires a thorough assessment of a project's impacts before the government can undertake a host of potential actions.

Trump briefly considered White to lead the Environmental Protection Agency last year but chose Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittNew disclosures show Pruitt spent nearly K on 'tactical' pants and polos: report Overnight Energy: Inhofe defends Pruitt after criticisms | Agency releases study on water contaminant | Trump rescinds Obama ocean policy Hollywood goes low when it takes on Trump MORE instead.

Her nomination to CEQ is certain to kick up opposition from environmentalists. If confirmed by the Senate, White would join a growing list of climate skeptics in the Trump administration.