Spotlight on Climate Science Denier Kathleen Hartnett White

Read time: 3 mins
Kathleen Hartnett White

For more than three months, the Trump administration tried to get climate science denier Kathleen Hartnett White confirmed for a top environmental post in the White House. But last week, the administration officially withdrew its nomination of Hartnett White, a clearly unqualified candidate who could have had dangerous implications for environmental and public health.

Trump was so committed to Hartnett White that he renominated her after the Senate failed to act on her nomination the first time. But in the end he couldn’t get this climate denier confirmed as the new chair of the White House Council on Environmental Quality, which coordinates environmental policy across federal agencies.

Who is Kathleen Hartnett White and why did she represent such a danger?

Hartnett White and the Environment

In her career, Kathleen Hartnett White has shown alarming disregard for environmental protection and touted extremist views about the “benefits” of CO2 pollution. Previously, she held top environmental positions for two Texas governors (George W. Bush and Rick Perry).  

As the head of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), she voted in favor of the construction of a new coal power plant even though it was opposed by 24 cities and counties and had inadequate safety measures. When a judge stated the facility’s air pollution controls were insufficient, Hartnett White said the corporation was “under no obligation to prove its pollution controls would work.”

Under her stewardship, the TCEQ also falsified reporting data on radiation in drinking water. Despite stringent federal rules on radiation levels in drinking water, staff at the TCEQ were directed to defy those rules and report lower radiation results, leaving people at risk of contracting cancer and other adverse health conditions. Hartnett White’s time at the TCEQ was noted for its coddling of corporate polluters and refusal to hold companies accountable for environmental violations.

Beyond her lackluster record as an environmental regulator, Hartnett White is also a well documented climate science denier with a laundry list of outrageous comments about climate change. Her most notable talking point is that carbon dioxide is not a pollutant, and that its growing excess in the atmosphere is actually driving human development. She is currently employed at the Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF), a conservative think tank funded by the Koch brothers, ExxonMobil, Chevron, and the Heartland Institute.

Finally, if you need any more evidence that Harnett White was unfit to lead the CEQ, just watch some of her nomination hearing highlights.

Kathleen Hartnett White: Top Quotes

  1. On CO2 not having harmful effects: “Carbon dioxide 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!”

  2. On climate science: “IPCC science claims of 95 percent certainty that human activity is causing climate calamity are more like the dogmatic claims of ideologues and clerics than scientific conclusions.”

  3. On the environment: “There is no environmental crisis—in fact, there’s almost no major environmental problems.”

READ: Kathleen Hartnett White’s full profile in DeSmog’s Climate Disinformation Database.

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Main image: Kathleen Hartnett White Credit: YouTube Screenshot

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