Trump's Environmental Council Chair Nominee Doesn't Believe In Climate Change

by Seth Millstein

The White House announced Thursday that President Trump has nominated climate change skeptic Kathleen Hartnett White to chair the Council on Environmental Quality. Currently a fellow at a Chevron-funded conservative think tank, White has argued that carbon dioxide is harmless to humans, and rejects the scientific community's consensus that greenhouse gases are driving global warming. Trump asserted in 2012 that global warming is a Chinese hoax designed to make the U.S. manufacturing less competitive, and White is only the most recent change denier to join his administration.

Previously, White served as chairwoman of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality; she was appointed to that position by then-Gov. Rick Perry, who is now Trump's Energy Secretary. White then joined the Texas Public Policy Foundation, a free-market advocacy group funded in part by the the fossil fuel industry, where she criticized the Obama administration's efforts to fight global warming and authored a 36-page paper titled Fossil Fuels: The Moral Case.

"Global warming alarmists are misleading the public about carbon dioxide emissions," White wrote in 2014. "Whether emitted from the human use of fossil fuels or as a natural (and necessary) gas in the atmosphere surrounding the earth, carbon dioxide has none of the attributes of a pollutant. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)’s increasing characterization of man-made CO2 as 'dirty carbon pollution' is absurd." In 2016, White told the Washington Post that "carbon dioxide has none of the characteristics of a pollutant that could harm human health."

In actuality, too much carbon dioxide is fatal to humans. Hypercapnia is the name of the condition that results when a person has too much carbon dioxide in their bloodstream, and it can cause everything from seizures and panic attacks to "unexplained feelings of confusion" and "abnormal feelings of paranoia or depression," according to Healthline.

In addition, meta-analyses of existing research have consistently found that between 90 and 100 percent of climate scientists agree that global warming exists and is caused by human activity. The EPA's website said earlier in the year that "carbon dioxide is the primary greenhouse gas that is contributing to recent climate change," although the Trump administration has since taken that page offline.

The president had originally considered picking White to lead the Environmental Protection Agency, according to the Hill. However, that job ultimately went to Scott Pruitt, a fellow climate change skeptic who told Congress in March that he doesn't think carbon dioxide is "a primary contributor to the global warming that we see." Months after Pruitt was confirmed, former EPA administrator Christine Todd Whitman criticized Trump's decision to appoint him.

“I think it's going to have a chilling effect on science overall, because it’s going to elevate those scientists who are in the vast minority and give them a stage that, frankly, they don’t deserve,” Whitman, a former Republican governor who managed the EPA under President George W. Bush, told the Hill in September. “It’s wasting taxpayer money and making it an even more difficult issue for the average person to wade through, which I think is part of the political agenda, to make the case that we don’t need to do anything about this issue.”

White, Pruitt and Perry aren't the only global warming deniers who Trump has named to key slots in his administration. There's also coal lobbyist Andrew Wheeler, who Trump nominated to serve as the deputy administrator of the EPA earlier in the week; Sam Clovis, a former defense contractor who's in line to be the Department of Agriculture's next chief scientist; and Rep. Jim Bridenstine, who Trump has nominated to head up NASA in September.