The head of the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) is a position unknown to many Americans that has an enormously influential role in how our public lands are managed. The appointee is responsible for developing policies and advising the President on the state of our outdoor heritage. The position is also responsible for implementing, interpreting, and settling disputes surrounding the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), which evaluates the impacts of the government’s decisions to develop natural resources on public lands.
But what if that nominee has a deep background working for special interests and Koch Industries, believes excessive carbon dioxide is our savior, and that there is somehow $50 trillion worth of fossil fuel assets under America’s public lands? Enter Trump nominee Kathleen Hartnett White.
$50 trillion you say? Yes, a number so outlandish that even the conservative American Action Forum said that it was “not accurate.” Their estimate is that “the U.S. has about $3.82 trillion in proved fossil fuel resources.” It is believed that the figure was derived from a book co-authored by Kathleen Hartnett White titled “Fueling Freedom: Ending the Mad War on Energy” that looks at the consequences of federal energy policy. She has even cited the fabricated figure in a national television interview.
Unfortunately, the President has already cited this outlandish figure.
While her extreme views on climate change have been well documented, less attention has been given to her extreme public land positions that should give every hunter, angler, outdoor recreationist, and public lands supporter a chill up their spine.
For those of us who love the outdoors, a red flag goes up for any nominee that is praised by land transfer advocate and Chair of the House Committee on Natural Resources, Representative Rob Bishop (R-UT). Bishop called Hartnett White, “a great choice to help the administration realign priorities at CEQ.” In a press release, Rep. Bishop said he looked forward to “working with her on a long overdue streamlining of NEPA…” Read: block the public out of the permitting process on public lands so special interests can run roughshod on those lands without oversight, impacting critical wildlife habitat and public access.
Her work as a senior fellow at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, a group that is heavily funded by Koch Industries and oil and gas corporations, is marked by outlandish claims of monumental proportions. In some of her 2016 appearances, she claimed that the government uses sham science, totally manipulates the science, and communicates through pure propaganda. How is her tune going to change if she is working for the federal government?
If the $50 trillion claim isn’t enough to give you pause, consider Hartnett White’s assertion that “the jury is still out” on whether fracking causes seismic activity, or her 2014 policy paper titled “Fossil Fuels: The Moral Case,” where she characterizes renewable energy as an “unreliable and parasitic” power source.
Hartnett White’s current employer, the Texas Public Policy Foundation, even sued the Bureau of the Land Management (BLM), claiming that the agency seized “thousands of acres of private land” in Texas despite a nearly century-old Supreme Court decision that determined it was indeed public land.
If confirmed to this position, Kathleen Hartnett White will be the President’s voice on critical decisions that impact our public lands. Through her unsubstantiated 50 trillion dollar claim and her unabashed support for special interests, Hartnett White has made it very clear that she would prefer to hand the keys to our federal public lands to private corporations and overhaul common-sense regulations that protect public lands and critical wildlife habitat, ultimately threatening our outdoor heritage now and for future generations.