Trump’s nominee to lead the Council on Environmental Quality, Katherine Hartnett White, has withdrawn her name from consideration for the chair position. White’s withdrawal comes after a contentious nomination process.
Controversial climate change skeptic Kathleen Hartnett White had her name withdrawn from consideration by the White House this week after being nominated to lead the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ), marking a stride away from the denial of climate change science that persists in President Donald Trump’s administration.
In part due to Senate Republicans who questioned the nominee’s expertise in the field of environmental science, Hartnett White’s seat as the head of the CEQ failed to reach approval in the Senate session on multiple occasions.
The chair of the CEQ holds a powerful role at the center of all federal interagency discussion on issues pertaining to energy and the environment.
On Sunday, the White House released a statement from Hartnett White, announcing her withdrawal from the nomination, stating “in the best interest of facilitating confirmation of the President’s nominees throughout his administration, as well the needs of my family and work.”
Hartnett’s contentious confirmation hearings for head of Council on Environmental Quality
Hartnett was a heavily protested choice when nominated by Trump in October, 2017 and after delivering several comments during Senate confirmation hearings in November that expressed her disbelief and disagreement in the ties between climate change and human activity.
In response to a question from Rhode Island Senator Sheldon Whitehouse during her Senate hearing, Hartnett White said that while the warming Earth and human behavior are “probably” linked, the extent of the relationship is unknown.
Senator Whitehouse later expressed how appalled he was by the response on Twitter, saying that Hartnett White “outright rejects basic science.”
But Senator Whitehouse wasn’t the only one with concerns.
Hartnett White’s Legacy at the Texas Public Policy Foundation
In the years preceding her hearing, Hartnett White left a trail of controversial remarks, conspiracy theories, and misunderstandings of scientific data while serving her post at the Texas Public Policy Foundation.
In 2015, she wrote the following for the Town Hall website, mixing up carbon pollutants and carbon dioxide to a severe degree:
No matter how many times, [sic] the President, EPA, and press rant about ‘dirty carbon pollution,’ there is no pollution about carbon itself! As a dictionary will tell you, carbon is the chemical basis of all life. Our flesh, blood, and bones are built of carbon. Carbon dioxide (CO2) is the gas of life on this planet, an essential nutrient for plant growth on which human life depends. How craftily our government has masked these fundamental realities and the environmental benefits of fossil fuels!
She also spoke out against the use of ethanol and biofuels set by the Renewable Fuel Standard, and in her confirmation hearing in November 2017, this caused concern with Republican senators who feared she would repeal the policy.
Undeterred, Trump Resubmits Hartnett White’s Name To Lead The Council On Environmental Quality After First Rejection
The Senate rejected the nomination in December 2017, but President Trump resubmitted Hartnett White’s name as his nominee in January. But over the course of a month, the Republican controlled Senate could not rally enough support to confirm the nomination.
President Trump withdrew her name officially on Monday afternoon.
Republican Environmental Group Praises Hartnett White’s Removal
This removal was praised by the website RepublicEN, an advocacy group of conservatives who identify with the Republican Party but agree with the existence of global warming and harsh realities of climate change in modern society.
This is great news to start the week. The #ecoright hopes POTUS nominates someone who takes the threat of #climatechange seriously next time! https://t.co/aOUXPbfpPe #areyouEn pic.twitter.com/uf6I9wtnmb
— republicEn | E&EI (@republicEn) February 5, 2018
Former South Carolina Congressman Bob Inglis serves as the executive director of RepublicEN and, along with his colleagues, advocates for new approaches to the clean energy conversation from the perspective of the eco-right, a population which has gained a growing following over the years.
Their support of Secretary of State Rex Tillerson exemplifies the eco-right optimism that new voices could lead to wide-spread climate change recognition.
“If Rex Tillerson led Exxon Mobil away from the disputation of climate science, perhaps he can lead the Administration away from disputation too,” Inglis told The Atlantic.
Over the last several weeks, the RepulicEN has focused on two Republican Representatives in Utah, Rep. Rebecca Edwards and Rep. Raymond Ward, who introduced two pieces of legislation that recognize climate change realities.
Edwards introduced her resolution to Congress on January 22, and Ward followed on February 1. The resolution presented by Ward “acknowledges that average global temperature and average Utah temperature have increased substantially over recent decades, and that scientific consensus is that a substantial cause for these increases is human-caused emissions.”
Both resolutions strive for a combination of recognition of scientific data and a pledge towards energy conservation efforts.
And both resolutions were moved to committee, a step in the right direction in the eyes of the eco-right.