Trump’s climate skeptic advisor to become the next head of the EPA ?

From ToxicLeaks

We already knew Donald Trump viewed global change as a kind of joke when he tweeted that according to him it was all a hoax elaborated by the Chinese to damage the American economy. However, which each week of campaign it is becoming clearer that a Trump presidency would be very seriously pro-fossil fuels. And the fact that his campaign staff is pushing to have Kathleen Hartnett-White , a climate change denier, named head of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) symbolizes the substantial shift in environmental policy that Trump plans to enact if elected in November. Of course, this is also a gambit to secure the support of fossil fuel corporations, an industry Kathleen Hartnett-White is extremely close to, as are many members of the Trump campaign !

A Hartnett-White candidacy to head the EPA supported by Trump core economic adviser[edit | edit source]

Stephen Moore, an economic adviser of the Trump campaign, recently told Politico that he was rooting for Kathleen Hartnett-White to become the head of the EPA in a Trump administration, should he win the presidential election. Of course, Stephen Moore isn't exactly what you'd call independant from the fossil fuel industry, he has taken money from the Koch brothers to promote their policies and he was a speaker in 2011 at an American Legislative Exchange Council meeting that was sponsored by Shell. This makes his choice of Hartnett-White to lead the EPA very logical indeed, because this woman has been working with and for fossil fuel corporations for decades... and they have just wrote a book together criticizing the so-called “global war on fossil fuels”. The name of the book itself is frightening : “Fueling Freedom : Exposing the Mad War on Energy”.

Hartnett-White 's career in fossil fuel friendly Texas[edit | edit source]

So who exactly is the possible next head of the EPA, aka the administration supposed to protect the public against the pollution caused by major corporations ? Suffice to say the Hartnett-White has had a very Texan political education. She served under George W. Bush when he was governor of Texas, in particular on the Texas Water Development Board and the Environmental Flows Study Commission. When Rick Perry became governor, she was promoted to chairman of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), a powerful position because that administration wields an annual budget of $600 million. As one can expect, her work in the Texan environmental administration was only helpful to powerful fossil fuel corporations, and when she left her office in 2007, the Dallas Morning News wrote a scathing editorial to assess her results as chairman of the TCEQ : “She [ Hartnett-White ] has been an apologist for polluters, consistently siding with business interests instead of protecting public health. Ms. Hartnett-White worked to set a low bar as she lobbied for lax ozone standards and pushed through an inadequate anti-pollution plan. She also voted to approve TXU's pollution-intensive Oak Grove coal units, ignoring evidence that emissions from the lignite plant could thwart North Texas' efforts to meet air quality standards”. We can see that from the beginning of her career, Hartnett-White 's decisions were very supportive of fossil fuel corporations. And this was confirmed when she joined the Texas Public Policy Foundation (TPPF) in January 2008, to become Director of its Armstrong Center for Energy & the Environment. And Hartnett-White was clearly the right person for that job because TPPF has a very close relationship with the private sector and in particular Texas' main polluters, the fossil fuel corporations. As Craig McDonald, director of Texans for Public Justice, explains, “TPPF's donors are a Who's Who of Texas polluters, giant utilities and big insurance companies. TPPF is thinking the way its donors want it to think.” And while the TPPF try to keep the list of these donors a secret, this list has been unearthed by Texans for Public Justice and include ExxonMobil and the Koch Brothers. Data confirmed by Greenpeace that said that Koch related foundations had given the TPPF over $900,000 from 1998 to 2014. So basically, this conservative “think tank” is really just a communication channel for the fossil fuel industry to try and craft the opinion of the public in a way that protects its bottom line.

A key member of Trump's campaign voicing out climate change denying statements[edit | edit source]

Kathleen Hartnett-White has supported the Trump campaign for some time. For example, she has given credence to the false belief that global warming isn't happening, which confirms Trump's shocking statements on the reality of climate change. A few days before the Paris Conference of 2015, she told The Daily Signal in an interview that “temperatures have not warmed as predicted by the models over the last 18 years. And extreme weather events have not been more frequent or more intense than in the 20th century.” And in June 2016, she wrote a piece in the Hill backing Trump's plan to restrain the powers of what she calls an “imperial EPA”. The main idea she tried to drive home was that carbon was a key element in the human body... and that therefore the consensus around the adverse effects of carbon emissions had to be the result of lies and propaganda : “How do our national leaders square their public vilification of carbon dioxide with fundamental scientific and economic realities? Such political propaganda has now educated at least two generations of Americans who think carbon is a killer instead of the stuff of life on the earth”. This last summer, she jumped in and joined Trump's team of economic advisors and since then, she has been the flag-bearer of Trump's disastrous environmental policy plans. In a bewildering interview to ArsTechnica, Kathleen Hartnett-White clearly stated that the regulations on fracking were too harsh and would have to be loosened. She carried on explaining how a Trump presidency would go about helping the coal sector to recover :  "If you wanted to take on reviving coal, there are several EPA rules that would have to be amended or rescinded.” And, of course, she spewed out the usual climate denial arguments, like the fact that the vast community of scientists that had reached a consensus on the topic hadn't been thorough because their work "never really takes on an explanation of how the other variables in climate affect climate... It never takes on the Sun. There are a number of very, very senior atmospheric physicists—one I think of in particular, Fritz Varenholt, who wrote a book called The Neglected Sun. As a scientist, he's just appalled that better knowledge about the role of the Sun would not be a part of the science." But M. Varenholt isn't really an authority on climate issues. He doesn't even do research and although he did get a PhD, it was in chemistry, and therefore he lacks the background one would need to conduct credible work on this issue. So basically the usual cheap arguments that have been shovelled again and again by climate change deniers like the Koch brothers or ExxonMobil...

The numerous links of the Trump campaign with fossil fuels[edit | edit source]

Like Hartnett-White, many advisors of the Trump campaign have close ties with the fossil fuel industry. For instance, Harold Hamm, one of Trump's most important advisors for energy issues, is the CEO and founder of Continental Resources, a large fracking company. And Hamm could very well become the next Secretary of Energy if Trump is elected, which would create a massive conflict of interest because his company, Continental Resources, has a stake in two very controversial and potentially disruptive pipelines, Keystone XL and Dakota Access ! In the same field, another advisor, Larry Nichols, used to run Devon Energy, also a huge fracking company, before he retired. Incidentally, Devon Energy is one of the corporations that fund TPPF so Hartnett-White is really just resuming her collaboration with Nichols, albeit in a different setting... And finally, who better to run Trump's energy team than Mike Catanzaro, a notorious global warming denier, who used to work for the Republican party leader John Boehner before he became a partner at CGCN, a lobbying firm that works for Koch Industries, Noble Energy, Devon Energy, Encana and Halliburton.

So really, when Donald Trump denies having said what he did say on global warming, to dismiss his statements as jokes, it's important to look at the people that advise him, and that would craft his energy and environment policies if he is elected. And everything about that team screams that a Trump presidency would be a catastrophe for the United States and the world, because the United States would resume mining for coal, would expand fracking and would smother the development of renewable energies. Because that is the policy the companies his team members are linked to want in order to continue to generate profit.