Stephen Moore — economic adviser for Republican Party presidential candidate Donald Trump’s campaign — recently told Politico’s Morning Energy that he is “pushing” to have a climate change denier and fossil fuel promoter, Kathleen Hartnett White, named as head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) if Trump is elected president in November.
Buried in Politico’s daily newsletter on September 28, the news comes as the Trump campaign has also announced that another climate change denier — Myron Ebell of the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) — is leading Trump’s EPA transition team.
White currently serves as a fellow-in-residence at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, which, like CEI, is funded by ExxonMobil and Koch Industries, and she also serves on the Trump campaign’s economic advisory team.
White co-heads the Texas Public Policy Foundation’s Fueling Freedom Project, which has among its stated goals to “explain the forgotten moral case for fossil fuels” and “end the regulation of CO2 as a pollutant.”
In addition, she formerly served as a special assistant to First Lady Nancy Reagan in the Ronald Reagan White House, as former Texas Republican Governor Rick Perry’s appointee to the Texas Center on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) and as an appointee to the Texas Water Development Board under then-Governor George W. Bush.
News of White’s possible EPA appointment comes as scientists say the planet has now permanently passed the threshold of 400 parts per million of atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2). At a global temperature rise of 2 degrees Celsius, the scientific consensus says we could see calamitous impacts, while many say the already locked-in warming of 1.5 degrees is the safe limit.
Trump’s Fracking Corps
White is only one of many Trump campaign consultants with direct ties to the hydraulic fracturing (“fracking”) industry.
Trump’s prospective Secretary of Energy under Trump and a key campaign energy adviser, Harold Hamm, also has an industry connection as CEO and founder of a major fracking company, Continental Resources. Continental has a stake in the building of both the northern leg of the Keystone XL and Dakota Access pipelines.
Politico’s Morning Energy also reported that Larry Nichols, the co-founder and retired CEO of fracking giant Devon Energy, serves on the Trump campaign as an energy adviser. Devon Energy also funds the Texas Public Policy Foundation and CEI.
Moore told Morning Energy that Hamm, Nichols, and White are “among a small group of people who have Donald Trump’s ear on energy policy.” Moore himself founded the Koch Industries-funded Club for Growth, a right-wing political fundraising group, and he and White co-authored a book published in May titled, “Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy.”
“I’ve been told by some of the staff it’s been useful to them,” White told SNL Energy Finance Daily in a recent interview of the book, which includes chapters promoting fracking, calling green energy a false hope, and referring to the looming creation of a “Saudi America.”
Like White, Moore formerly worked in the Reagan White House, serving as research director for President Reagan’s Privatization Commission.
Climate Denier, Fracking, Coal Promoter
On numerous instances, White has disavowed climate change and denied that it is caused by human activity. Mirroring her, Trump has dismissed climate change as a Chinese hoax. However, Trump denied saying that during the first presidential debate when brought up by Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton.
“No matter how many times, the President, EPA and the media rant about ‘dirty carbon pollution,’ there is no pollution about carbon itself! As a dictionary will tell you, carbon is the chemical basis of all life,” White wrote in September 2015.
“Our flesh, blood and bones are built of carbon. Carbon dioxide (CO2) 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!”
She also derided climate science as having been “institutionalized” by elites and elite institutions, writing that dealing with the problem of climate change would be akin to allowing societal collapse.
“The weak science and counterproductive policies have been institutionalized in law, academia, media, and culture,” she wrote in the National Review magazine in March 2016. “The elites effectively promote the specter of a planetary meltdown forecast by supposedly unequivocal science, while they dismiss the civilizational threat of trying to decarbonize human society.”
In August 2016, White wrote an article deriding President Barack Obama’s “deluded and illegitimate battle against climate change.”
Beyond denying climate change, White also serves as a major promoter of fracking for shale oil and gas and of exporting U.S.-produced oil. She has also written a report and given a speech making a “moral case” for fossil fuel production and consumption.
“A rapid increase of domestic supplies of oil and gas at a time of painful gas prices; high-paying new jobs; expansion of thousands of businesses; increased federal, state, and local tax revenues: What’s not to like?,” wrote White.
“The U.S. has far more energy resources than any other country, yet no other country so limits and blocks access to its own energy supply. The opposition to fracking displays this unfortunate mentality.”
In a recent article White concluded that the 2016 Republican Party platform “is right” and that “coal is clean,” while in another article in October 2013 she came out against the regulation of coal-fired power plants by the Obama administration and its Clean Power Plan.
“The imperial EPA has once again raised its scepter, this time proposing the first hard caps on carbon dioxide emissions from coal-fired power plants,” she wrote. “The proposed coal rule merits a deeper assessment than it has yet received. The impacts of this and other EPA rules targeting coal go far beyond the coal industry. The EPA is undermining the very foundations of economic productivity.”
Internal documents published by the group Common Cause show that in 2010, White attended the American Legislative Exchange Council‘s Energy, Environmental, and Agriculture Task Force meeting. The Texas Public Policy Foundation is a member of the ALEC-created State Policy Network, a collective of industry-funded think-tanks (called “stink tanks” by critics) which produce reports and other public relations materials in service to the right-wing corporate agenda.
“Get White Out”
Perhaps portending what an EPA would look under her watch, in 2007 White came under fire for her inaction on climate change and environmental concerns while chairing TCEQ, with the watchdog group Public Citizen creating a billboard image near the TCEQ‘s headquarters demanding to “Get White Out” and also crafting a website by the same name.
Public Citizen said White had not done enough to halt climate change or slow mercury and air pollution and also said she tried to erode democracy by eliminating the right to comment publicly on a proposed project unless one lived within two miles of its proposed site.
“Chairman White has failed to lead our environmental agency in the right direction. Instead of acting to curb the serious threat from global warming, the TCEQ buried its head in the sand, and determined that global warming impacts would not have to be considered in the contested case hearings for any of the coal plant permits,” Get White Out’s website said of her tenure.
One thing seems clear: If he wins in November, Trump’s climate and energy team will likely wipe out any U.S. progress on the ever-worsening global climate crisis.