Drain the Swamp: Trump’s top environmental pick believes “Coal ended slavery”
Last week, President Trump nominated non-scientist and Accuweather CEO Barry Myers to head NOAA, which even WUWT considers a mistake because of the inherent conflict of interest between his family’s business and the National Weather Service. Then Trump announced he will nominate Kathleen Hartnett White to run the Council on Environmental Quality, an important office that advises the president, oversees NEPA environmental impact assessments and coordinates interagency environmental and energy efforts. She was an energy advisor to Trump’s campaign, and was rumored to be a possibility for EPA administrator, so there are some nice write-ups already out there.
Hartnett White is currently a senior fellow at the Koch, Exxon Mobil and RJ Reynolds-funded Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF), and director of their Fueling Freedom project. She was previously the Chair and Commissioner of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), appointed by Rick Perry. (TPPF filed a petition last May for the EPA to challenge the Endangerment finding, so this could be a sign the administration will take it on after all, perhaps with her leading Pruitt’s interagency Red Team.)
When Hartnett White ran the Texas CEQ, it was not without controversy, to put it mildly. For example, an investigation by Houston’s KHOU-TV revealed that the agency told staff to tamper with radiation test results, lowering the levels recorded in drinking water to skirt federal limits. This allowed them to keep the radiation secret from residents.
She also let other polluters off the hook. An examination of the TCEQ in a 2003 Texas State Audit found that the TCEQ did “not consistently ensure violators are held accountable” and polluters “often have economic benefits that exceed their penalties, which could reduce their incentive to comply.” Specifically, companies profited by violating environmental standards to the tune of over $8.6 million, but the TCEQ fines amounted to only $1.6 million, giving them a clear economic incentive to avoid compliance.
In 2006, when other TCEQ commissioners tried to strengthen penalties for polluters, Hartnett White resisted. This is one likely reason the Dallas Morning News wrote an 2007 editorial saying “her exit [from TCEQ] is welcome news” because she was “an apologist for polluters, consistently siding with business interests instead of protecting public health.”
Not long before leaving TCEQ, she was a deciding vote to approve a new coal plant, contradicting a prior court ruling finding the pollution controls for the proposal were insufficient.
Even that isn’t the limit of her fossil fuel promotions. Hartnett White is the co-author of Fueling Freedom, described as “a hymnal to all things fossil fuels, the dirty-energy, non-satirical equivalent of Thank You for Smoking.”
Of course, how could we have forgotten Abraham Lincoln’s infamous Emission-pation Proclamation?
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(Originally appeared at DailyKos.)