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Dem senator blasts Trump environmental nominee for rejecting 'basic science'

Sen. Sheldon WhitehouseSheldon WhitehouseSenate Dems ask Trump to disclose financial ties to Saudi Arabia Democrats won’t let Kavanaugh debate die Senate poised to confirm Kavanaugh after bitter fight MORE (D-R.I.) on Wednesday blasted Kathleen Hartnett White, a key environmental nominee from President Trump, for rejecting "basic science."

Whitehouse asked Hartnett White — who has been tapped to lead the Council on Environmental Quality — at a hearing Wednesday if she knew how much of the excess heat that has been captured by greenhouse gas emissions has been absorbed by the ocean.

"I don't have numbers like that," she said in response.

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She was pressed on whether she knew whether it was more or less than 50 percent.

"Of the additional heat that has been captured in the atmosphere as a result of greenhouse gas emissions, do you know how much of that excess heat has been captured in the ocean. Is it more or less than 50 percent?" he asked. "Do you even know that?"

"No, but I believe there are differences of opinions on that, that there's not one right answer," she said.

Whitehouse further pressed Hartnett White on whether she thinks there is actual "serious difference of opinion on whether it's below 50 percent."

"Unless I'm mistaken, yes," she said.

She was then asked whether she thinks the law of thermal expansion applies to sea water.

"I do not have any kind of expertise or even much layman's study of the ocean dynamics and the climate change issues," she said.

Whitehouse shot back, "Just enough to know that you think that there is not science that establishes clearly how much of the heat has been taken up by the ocean."

Whitehouse tweeted about the interaction Wednesday, claiming the nominee "rejects basic science."

"I don’t even know where to begin with @realdonaldtrump’s CEQ nominee Kathleen Hartnett White—she outright rejects basic science," she said.

Hartnett White, a think tank official and former Texas environmental regulator, 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.