Donald Trump’s rumored top pick to run the Council on Environmental Quality’s is the author of a wholly unfounded claim that has been used repeatedly to justify excessive oil and gas development on American public lands. Kathleen Hartnett White is a former environmental regulator in Texas Governor Rick Perry’s administration. CEQ has wide influence over federal energy and public lands policy.
Ms. Harnett White believes $50 trillion (with a “t.) worth of untapped oil and natural gas is under American land, just waiting to fund his infrastructure bill, cover military spending increases, or pay down the national debt.
She made the claim in a book published on Regnery Publishing, whose motto is “Great Conservative Books. Great Conservative Authors.” Other authors featured by the publisher include leading energy economist Ted Nugent.
According to the free market think tank American Action Forum, Ms. Hartnett White arrived at that figure thanks to an “editing error.” They say that the actual value is likely to be as much as 13 times lower. The methods Ms. Hartnett White used to arrive at this figure may as well have been drawn up on the back of a cocktail napkin.
This appointment would be just the latest in a series moves by the Trump administration that signal their approach to managing public land will be dictated by the oil and gas special interests that bankrolled the President’s rise to power. That direction is ostensibly at odds with Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke’s claims to be interested in protecting at least some public land.