Quantcast
Popular
Senate Environment and Public Works Committee video

White House Withdraws Climate Skeptic for Top Environmental Job

By Andy Rowell

In another major setback for President Donald Trump, the White House has been forced to withdraw the nomination of a leading climate skeptic to become the chair of the influential Council on Environmental Quality.

The nomination of the skeptic, Kathleen Hartnett White, had been mired in controversy due to her comments on climate change and other environmental issues, and she was struggling to win support even amongst Republicans in the Senate. Her nomination process had dragged on for over a year.


Like many Trump nominees, she is ideologically opposed to environmentalism, and she is a fellow at the conservative, free-market think tank Texas Public Policy Foundation.

But over the weekend, she asked for her nomination to be withdrawn, according to the Washington Post.

She said in a statement: "I want to thank President Trump for his confidence in me and I will continue to champion his policies and leadership on environmental and energy issues of critical importance to making our nation great, prosperous and secure again."

She added that her name should be withdrawn "in the best interest of facilitating confirmation of the President's nominees throughout his administration, as well the needs of my family and work."

She has long said controversial statements. Back in 2011, she asserted that "there is no environmental crisis—in fact, there's almost no major environmental problems" in the U.S.

She also was on record saying renewable energy is "a false hope that simply won't work" and called scientists' climate findings "the dogmatic claims of ideologues and clerics."

In September last year, Hartnett White had described believing in "global warming" as a "kind of paganism" for "secular elites."

Her extreme views were also on show in November at her nomination hearing at the Senate committee on environment and public works, where she struggled to answer basic questions about carbon dioxide and climate:

"CO2 in the atmosphere has none of the characteristics of a pollutant that, you know, contaminates and fouls and ... can have a direct impact on human health," she replied when asked if she was worried by rising CO2 levels. "As an atmospheric gas it's a plant nutrient," she added.

When asked whether she was aware of any problems in the oceans relating to fossil fuel emissions, she replied: "there are probably a number of them." When probed to name a few, she said she had a "very superficial understanding" of the issues.

She could not answer the question by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) about how much of excessive heat from rising CO2 emissions had been captured in the oceans.

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

She was also taken to task by Senators for writing an article that said that "signing the Paris agreement was the worst way to celebrate Earth Day."

Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) criticized her: "It seems to me that you don't believe that climate change is real." She started to reply "I am uncertain," before clarifying her remarks, saying, "Climate change is of course real," but added the extent to which human activity was causing global warming is "very uncertain."

When asked whether she would rely on scientists to give her that answer, she replied, "No, I have had that question for a very long time."

It is not surprising that to coincide with the hearing, more than 300 scientists had signed a letter urging the Senate to reject her nomination, arguing, "This is not a partisan issue; it is a matter of defending scientific integrity."

Confirming Harnett White, the group said, "would have serious consequences for people and the ecosystems of the only planet that can support us."

The news of her withdrawal was welcomed by scientists: Andrew Rosenberg, director of the Center for Science and Democracy at the Union of Concerned Scientists, told the Post, "A while ago, I wrote that many Trump appointees to science-based positions could be considered to either have deep conflicts of interest, to be fundamentally opposed to the mission of the agency they were to lead or totally unqualified. Hartnett-White was all three—a trifecta," he said.

The news was also welcomed by Democrats: Sen. Thomas R. Carper (D-Del.), the top Democrat on the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, added in statement that "Withdrawing Kathleen Hartnett White's nomination is the right thing to do, and I believe it is past time for this administration to nominate a thoughtful environmental and public health champion to lead this critical office in the federal government."

Reposted with permission from our media associate Oil Change International.

Show Comments ()
Sponsored
Adventure
"These are lands that have been stewarded by indigenous people for thousands of years, and now it's a responsibility of everyone to take that into consideration." @nativesoutdoors / Instagram

Posting Your Hike on Instagram? Now You Can Tag Your Location’s Indigenous Name

By Isabelle Morrison

Public spaces are for everyone, but how we perceive them and interact with them is contextual. Some activists are making their statements on the public canvas all around the world. And it's catching on.

Keep reading... Show less
Business
Low water levels in Cape Town's Theewaterskloof dam could be a preview of climate-related droughts to come. Zaian / CC BY-SA 4.0

Groundbreaking Study Shows Limiting Warming to 1.5 Degrees Is Good for the Economy, Too

When politicians refuse to take action on climate change, they often use the economy as an excuse. President Donald Trump, for example, justified his decision to pull the U.S. out of the Paris agreement in economic terms.

Keep reading... Show less
Food
Paul Asman and Jill Lenoble / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

5 Reasons Getting USDA Organic Certification Is Really Difficult

As the only government-administered label that addresses farming practices, the organic emblem is vitally important. There literally is no other badge that carries as much weight. USDA certified organic-food sales topped $43 billion in 2016—emphasis on "USDA certified." Ask around at your local farmers market and you're likely to run into a few "all-but-certified" farms (for which there are no statistics). The reason? Organic certification is incredibly difficult. Here's why.

Keep reading... Show less
Business
Taz / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

5 Reasons the World Wastes So Much Stuff (and Why It's Not Just the Consumer's Fault)

By Mathy Stanislaus

If you need motivation to skip the straw at lunch today, consider this: Scientists found that even Arctic sea ice—far removed from most major metropolitan areas—is no longer plastic-free. According to Dr. Jeremy Wilkinson of the British Antarctic Survey, "this suggests that microplastics are now ubiquitous within the surface waters of the world's ocean. Nowhere is immune."

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Politics
Dr. Piers Sellers discussed Earth science with actor and environmental activist Leonardo DiCaprio at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center in April 2016. NASA Goddard Space Flight Center / CC BY 2.0

White House Considered Ignoring Climate Science, Internal Memo Reveals

The Trump administration debated whether it should attack or simply ignore federal research on climate change, the Washington Post reported Wednesday.

Keep reading... Show less
Climate
Terraced rice field in Yabu-shi, Hyogo Prefecture, Japan. cotaro70s / CC BY-ND 2.0

High CO2 Levels Make Rice Less Nutritious, Study Finds

Research published Wednesday in Science Advances found that rice grown with the higher atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations expected by the end of this century was less nutritious, signaling bad news for the more than two billion people who rely on the grain as their primary food source, a University of Washington (UW) press release published in EurekAlert! Reported.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored
Energy
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at World Bank Group headquarters during Trudeau's first official visit to Washington, DC in March 2016. Franz Mahr / World Bank / CC BY 2.0

236 Civil Society Groups to Justin Trudeau: 'The Time for Investment in New Fossil Fuel Infrastructure Is Over'

By Andy Rowell

With just over a week to go until the May 31 deadline set by Kinder Morgan for the Canadian Government to resolve all financial and political issues surrounding its highly controversial Trans Mountain pipeline, some 236 civil society groups from 44 countries have written to Justin Trudeau to tell him to drop his support for the project.

Kinder Morgan's Trans Mountain Pipeline will triple the amount of dirty tar sands being shipped from Alberta to the coast of British Columbia.

Keep reading... Show less
Animals
A grizzly bear at Montana Grizzly Encounter in Bozeman, MT, a rescue and educational sanctuary. jerseygal2009 / CC BY-ND 2.0

Wyoming Votes to Allow First Grizzly Bear Hunt in 40 Years

The Wyoming Game and Fish Commission voted unanimously Wednesday to approve the largest grizzly bear hunt in the lower 48 states, despite opposition from environmental groups, tribal nations and wildlife photographers, The Washington Post reported.

Keep reading... Show less
Sponsored

mail-copy

The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!