Another industry-funded lobbyist tapped by Trump?

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From a video in which White discusses "the benefits of CO2."

Texas Public Policy Foundation

For the top White House environmental position, Director of the Council on Environmental Quality, President Trump is considering Kathleen Hartnett White. She’s a registered lobbyist, and is currently with the Texas Public Policy Foundation, an advocacy group funded in large part by the energy industry. She seems to have spent most of her time there spreading “alternative facts” on air pollution and climate change.

As my colleague Jeremy Symons wrote when White was considered to lead the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, she has long been a critic of the EPA’s efforts to reduce toxic air pollution such as soot and mercury. In a 2016 op-ed for The Hill she attacked the agency for pursuing standards to reduce air pollution from fossil fuels.

Continuing a pattern

Unfortunately, this appointment would be part of a pattern. Nearly one-fourth of all Trump administration officials who deal with environmental regulations had connections to energy companies, according to a new study from Columbia University.

This is on top of an energy and environment cabinet that represents a single point of view: big energy companies.

Few of the officials seems to have relevant experience or knowledge beyond that. For instance, at the EPA, only two of 11 appointees have germane experience in the primary mission of the agency. Seven had connections to the fossil fuel industry, which the EPA regulates.

Rejecting consensus science

White, a former chairwoman of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, told Rolling Stone, “We’re not a democracy if science dictates what our rules are.” In a 2012 report [PDF] targeting the EPA’s efforts to reduce the fine particle air pollution that exacerbates lung disease and asthma, she lamented that political appointees must weigh the views of what she called “mandarins brandishing their scientific credentials.”

In The Moral Case for Fossil Fuels [PDF], she called CO2 “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 is apparently not a fan of the scientists at NASA, the National Academies of Science, and all major American scientific organizations.

Siding with big energy interests over public health

The reviews of her work from some Texans have not been friendly. The Dallas Morning News called her “an apologist for polluters,” saying she’d been “consistently siding with business interests instead of protecting public health. White worked to set a low bar as she lobbied for lax ozone standards and pushed through an inadequate anti-pollution plan.”

If we are to protect clean air and water, and keep pace in a world moving toward cleaner energy, we need leaders who are looking forward. Right now, with the environmental positions in the cabinet only representing one voice, we risk damaging America’s future. And the addition of Kathleen Hartnett White would add ignorance to injury.

Keith Gaby

Keith Gaby

Explores the intersection of politics and climate change.

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