President Trump added another person to his ever-growing list of climate change-denying nominees on Thursday when he tapped Kathleen Hartnett-White to lead his administration’s Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ).
Hartnett-White hails from Texas, where she was formerly an environmental regulator and chairwoman of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality under Rick Perry (who now leads the Energy Department). Her resumé of climate science denial ranges from the expected to the spectacularly outlandish.
As a fellow at the Koch Industries-funded Texas Public Policy Foundation, Hartnett-White has argued that carbon dioxide shouldn’t be regulated under the Clean Air Act because it isn’t a pollutant. Carbon dioxide, she contended in an interview with The Washington Post, wasn’t harmful to human health:
She has displayed similar contempt for international climate efforts, calling scientific conclusions from United Nations panels “not validated and politically corrupt.” Hartnett-White has also questioned the idea that carbon dioxide is a pollutant at all, calling it “an odorless, invisible, beneficial, and natural gas.”
In her book, brazenly titled Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy, Hartnett-White rigorously defended fossil fuels as, in the words of its Amazon description, the “lifeblood of the modern world.” Also from The Post:
“Our flesh, blood and bones are built of carbon,” she wrote in 2016. “Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the gas of life on this planet, an essential nutrient for plant growth on which human life depends.”
Hartnett-White’s essay, “Fossil Fuels: The Moral Case,” attempted to paint the oil industry as the world’s great liberator that “vastly improved living conditions across the world.” And her contempt for the Environmental Protection Agency’s “absurd” classification of manmade carbon dioxide as a “dirty carbon pollutant” will serve her quite well with the agency’s administrator, fellow climate change denier Scott Pruitt.
If her nomination is confirmed by the Senate, Hartnett-White would oversee the White House’s environmental policies and her reach would span several agencies. As chair of the CEQ, Hartnett-White would also manage the National Environmental Policy Act’s implementation, a 1970 law that requires the government to assess environmental impact before enacting federal policies. In other words, Harnett-White would be able to deregulate and undermine decades of environmental policies for the fossil fuel industry’s benefit.