Just when you thought it couldn’t get worse, the latest in a parade of dreadful environmental nominees is back.
In December, the Senate sent the nomination of Kathleen-Hartnett White–for Chair of the Council on Environmental Quality–back to the White House for reconsideration, believing that Trump would submit someone else. Instead, Trump–in an obnoxious and lazy move–has booted her name right back to the Senate. Now it is up to the senators to put aside party politics and reject this disastrous nominee permanently.
Hartnett-White was an unqualified nominee from the start. A controversial Texas environmental regulator who has called carbon dioxide “the gas of life”, and denied that human activity is causing climate change, Hartnett-White’s initial confirmation hearing was a disaster. 1 She struggled to answer even basic scientific questions, prompting one senator to call her testimony “some of the most embarrassing” he’d ever seen, and later stating that she was unqualified and “didn’t understand high-school level scientific principles.” 2
That sentiment was shared by 300 scientists who signed a letter to the Senate opposing her nomination for the position, citing scientific integrity as a major factor in their decision, and writing that “one thing more dangerous than climate change is lying.” Their letter concluded that “Confirming Kathleen Hartnett-White at the helm of the Council on Environmental Quality would have serious consequences for people and the ecosystem of the only planet that can support us.” 3
Senators at Ms. Hartnett-White’s hearing also focused on her integrity, expressing concern that she might have plagiarized other nominee’s answers and questioning her about falsifying radon test results to the EPA during her tenure as head of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. In that case, an investigation found her office underreporting the radioactive contaminants in drinking water systems, putting the health of 200,000 Texans at risk. Hartnett-White defended the deception by saying that she disagreed with the science that the EPA based its rules on.4
We stand with the senators who have stated publicly that Ms. Hartnett-White is not qualified to lead the Council on Environmental Quality, and with the scientists who believe that her extremism and denial in the face of clear scientific evidence would put the planet and the American people in real danger. Furthermore, we oppose President Trump’s attempts to destroy all of this country’s environmental protections by packing environmental agencies with industry shills, liars, and idiots, like Hartnett-White.
Honesty, integrity, and scientific knowledge are key qualifications for the position Ms. Hartnett-White is nominated for. Unfortunately, that means she falls short. She should withdraw her name from consideration. Otherwise, the Senate should reject her. Again.