Three hundred leading American scientists alarmed by President Trump’s plan to appoint Kathleen Hartnett White, a fossil fuel advocate and non-scientist, as his chief science advisor on climate change, published a letter in Politico today to strongly oppose her nomination and defend “scientific integrity.”
The group of leading scientists said that they strongly oppose White’s nomination to run the White House Council on Environmental Quality “because the one thing more dangerous than climate change is lying.”
— Ξnemy of the State (@Anony_Mia) November 22, 2017
Her appointment has been pushed by hard-line conservatives in the White House who Politico reported, “have been feuding behind the scenes for weeks with more moderate forces in the West Wing over issues like climate change.”
“White is by far the most outspoken critic of the underlying science – and the most ardent defender of fossil fuels – that Trump has considered to serve in his administration,” reported Politico.
She has backing from former White House strategist and now head of Breitbart News Steve Bannon, among others. Her appointment is seen as a way to “appease Trump’s climate skeptic supporters, who have criticized EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt for hesitating to revisit the Obama-era conclusion that global warming threatens public health,” reported Politico.
Pruitt, former attorney general of Oklahoma where he constantly sued the EPA to appease the oil and gas companies, being seen as not conservative enough is startling, considering that he has dismantled most of President Obama’s efforts to deal with the global climate crisis and strongly supported pulling the U.S. out of the Paris Agreement.
Dr. Amanda Lynch, who has researched climate science for 30 years at the Brown University Institute for Environment and Society, organized the protest which was released through the Union of Concerned Scientists, after hearing White reject “mainstream climate science” at her Senate confirmation hearing.
“Among other scientifically inaccurate statements,” the group said in its announcement, “she asserted that carbon emissions do not demonstrate a public health hazard and should not be considered a pollutant under the Clean Air Act.”
“Hearing a candidate for public office question whether warm water expands was the final straw,” said Lynch.
“This is not a partisan issue,” states the letter; “it is a matter of defending scientific integrity. Climate change threatens us all, regardless of political affiliation.”
Confirming White adds the letter, “would have serious consequences for people and the ecosystems of the only planet that can support us.”
“If you aren't alarmed by this news, it's likely because you haven't been paying attention.” – The Houston Press on Kathleen Hartnett White’s nomination to lead the Council on Environmental Quality. (We're alarmed and we're speaking up.) https://t.co/9SVw7XBD6h
— EPW Democrats (@EPWDems) November 28, 2017
During her confirmation hearing, White said: “I am not a scientist, but in my personal capacity I have many questions that remain unanswered by current climate policy.”
Donald Trump is ushering a parade of fossil fuel lobbyists and climate deniers like Kathleen Hartnett White (a former Perry appointee) into the EPA and Council on Environmental Quality. https://t.co/P3VRJJZQQr
— Lloyd Doggett (@RepLloydDoggett) November 19, 2017
White went to Stanford where she majored in East Asian studies and began her political involvement as an assistant to Nancy Reagan when her husband was president. She went on to work for organizations in her native Texas that supported cattlemen and beef producers and oil and gas drillers, becoming a favorite of then Texas Gov. Rick Perry.
Perry, now Trump’s Energy Secretary, is said to be a big supporter of White.
She went on to become Director of the Armstrong Center for Energy & the Environment where in 2014 she published a paper that argued carbon dioxide wasn’t a pollutant and championed fossil fuels and other “nonrenewable energy” as a “life-saving force.”
She expanded her war on renewable energy in a 2016 book written with Stephen Moore called, “Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy.”
In the book, they wrote that there is plenty of oil, and no need to worry about it running out anytime soon: “A sustainable energy abundance is no longer in question.”
She argues that it is in the interest of the U.S. to focus on developing oil and natural gas resources calling it “a simple matter of economics.”
“To stop producing fossil fuels,” she wrote, “would be like Iowa’s giving up corn or Columbia’s giving up coffee.”
White ignores all of the science that has shown the increase in carbon dioxide in the atmosphere not only pollutes our air but also creates a ring around the planet that holds in the heat, raising the global temperature, which is melting the ice cap and raising the sea level, a dire threat to coastal communities worldwide.
“The prophets of doom,” writes White, “have the story backward: the abundant energy that is a product of human ingenuity makes our planet habitable, not inhabitable.”
White insists the science on climate change is still being developed, but in any case, is not as important as economic growth.
“Given the weakening evidence for severe global warming and the counterproductive consequences of climate politics,” White writes, “surely increased economic growth offers the better bet for adaptation to whatever change in our climate may lie ahead.”
The scientists who signed the letter completely disagree with White.
“The physics and chemistry of carbon dioxide in the climate system have been understood for over a century,” said Dr. Lynch. “It is important the nominee for this key advisory role understand that the climate is changing and that human activities are contributing substantially, based on the empirical and theoretical evidence.”
The letter states that there is “unanimous agreement” among scientists that “carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gasses released by human activities are contributing to the harmful effects of climate change.”
“To state otherwise,” adds the letter, “in the face of overwhelming evidence is simply unsupportable.”
What we have seen under Trump is that what science says is not as important as the views of the big fossil fuel companies that have contributed to his campaign, and supported a range of other Republicans.
White most recently worked with the conservative think-tank Texas Public Policy Foundation, which has been funded by the Koch brothers, ExxonMobil, Chevron and other energy companies and utilities.
Until recently, she was a registered lobbyist for the group, and a leading voice among those questioning climate science data and downplaying the risk of global warming.
Trump – who said as a candidate promised not to hire industry lobbyists to regulate the very industries they represent – has once again chosen a lobbyist who has fought against climate science to be in charge of American policy on climate science.
Take it from those who know her best:@DallasNews Editorial Board: Kathleen Hartnett White “failed to consistently hold violators accountable for breaking laws, applied minuscule fines for violations and weakened the Texas commission's own regulations.”https://t.co/fXpn91lN1x
— EPW Democrats (@EPWDems) November 28, 2017
Like many of his government appointments and judicial nominations, Trump is not looking out for all Americans and certainly not for future generations, but rather is doing the work of big business which wants to milk maximum profits for as long as possible, even if it leaves the planet and the population of the world in dire jeopardy.