Hartnett White, Wheeler latest Trump nominees with extreme anti-public lands background

Former lobbyists poised to bring history of false claims and questionable dealings to administration

The United States Senate will soon consider Trump’s nominee to head the Council on Environmental Quality, Kathleen Hartnett White, and to become the Deputy Administrator at the Environmental Protection Agency, Andrew Wheeler.

Both Ms. Hartnett White and Mr. Wheeler are former lobbyists who have taken extreme anti-public land positions that should disqualify them from confirmation.

Ms. Hartnett White is the author of the false claim, frequently repeated by the President, that the United States has $50 trillion in untapped energy resources – a fiction often used to justify excessive development of oil and gas on public lands.

“Kathleen Hartnett White’s lies will put her right at home in this administration, but her alternative facts would have dire consequences for iconic landscapes and communities in the American West,” said Chris Saeger, Executive Director of the Western Values Project.

Mr. Wheeler would come to the EPA from a company that successfully lobbied to carve a uranium mine out of the new Bears Ears National Monument, a protected area President Trump is currently considering for elimination. His firm’s client likewise could benefit from a plan currently proposed by the administration to open up areas near the Grand Canyon to uranium mining.

“Andrew Wheeler must come clean about the nature of his work on these controversial projects and openly recuse himself from working with any former clients,” added Saeger.

More background on Andrew Wheeler:

Mr. Wheeler lobbies for Energy Fuels Resources, Inc., a Canadian uranium mining and milling company that successfully lobbied to keep its Daneros uranium mine out of the new Bears Ears National Monument.EPA has regulatory authority over the waste storage ponds (called “tailings”) at Energy Fuels’ White Mesa Mill, which is just outside Bears Ears. Potential leakage from these tailings is threatening local Native Americans’ groundwater. And the EPA is currently considering a rule change that would loosen regulations on the uranium tailings at the mill.

EPA also has authority to “establish environmental standards and to issue recommendations on radiation protection to federal and state organizations,” and Grand Canyon Trust sued EFI over radon leaks from the mill.

As Mr. Wheeler has continued lobbying for EFI, the Trump administration has already begun making plans that would benefit the company. In November, the United States Forest Service recommended opening up the land surrounding the Grand Canyon to uranium mining. In addition to having mines near the Grand Canyon, EFI owns the only mill in the United States currently processing uranium ore.

More background on Kathleen Hartnett White:

Kathleen Hartnett White is a senior fellow at the Texas Public Policy Foundation, “an influential right-wing think tank based in Austin” that is heavily funded by Koch Industries and the oil and gas industry. She was a registered lobbyist in Texas for many years, including for the Texas Public Policy Foundation.

[Steven Mufson, “Trump’s energy-policy advisers have ties to oil industry,” The Washington Post, 11/30/16; Forrest Wilder, “Revealed: The Corporations and Billionaires that Fund the Texas Public Policy Foundation,” Texas Observer, 08/24/12; Texas Ethics Commission Lobbyist Database, accessed 10/20/17]

Donald Trump has repeatedly cited “the estimated $50 trillion in untapped shale, oil, and natural gas reserves,” an inaccurate figure that “most likely originates from a book” co-authored by Kathleen Hartnett White, who has also touted the $50 trillion figure on television. According to the conservative American Action Forum, “the U.S. has about $3.82 trillion in proved fossil fuel resources.” [Donald Trump, Press Release, 10/22/16]

According to the conservative American Action Forum, the “$50 trillion in fossil fuel assets” is “not accurate. Using the Energy Information Administration’s (EIA) official proved reserves […] the U.S. has about $3.82 trillion in proved fossil fuel resources.” The $50 trillion figure “most likely originates from a book on the consequences of federal energy policy, Fueling Freedom: Ending the Mad War on Energy,” by Stephen Moore and Kathleen Hartnett White. [Philip Rossetti, “The U.S. Does Not Have $50 Trillion in Fossil Fuel Resources,” American Action Forum, 02/09/17]

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