President Donald Trump is considering appointing a high-profile climate skeptic and carbon tax opponent to serve the highest ranking environmental post in the White House.
Kathleen Hartnett White, a former official with the Trump transition team, is one of the president’s top picks to run the Council on Environmental Quality, the White House’s one-stop climate policy workshop, sources told Politico Wednesday.
The decision to appoint White could intensify an already white-hot debate transpiring between conservative and moderate forces in the Trump administration. A handful of Republicans in the White House are pushing the president to moderate his position on climate change and consider proposing a carbon tax.
Her nomination could appease Trump’s climate skeptic supporters, who are worried EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt is getting wobbly-kneed in his fight against climate regulations. The former Oklahoma attorney general has refused to nix a key legal tool that could allow future presidential administrations to re-implement Obama-era regulations.
Officials are considering other candidates to lead CEQ as well, sources said. A White House spokeswoman declined to comment, though, telling reporters that, “We will let you know when we have an announcement.”
White, who sat on Trump’s economic advisory council during his campaign, has worked at Texas Public Policy Foundation, a Texas-based conservative think tank. She was a registered lobbyist with the group until Nov. 29.
Her position on carbon emissions is sure to roil environmental activists already concerned about Trump’s climate skepticism.
“Carbon dioxide is not a pollutant, and carbon is certainly not a poison. Carbon is the chemical basis of all life on earth. Our bones and blood are made out of carbon,” White wrote in a June op-ed
White came out strong against the EPA during the transition. EPA will be dialed back to focus solely on pollutants posing harm to public health and will cease its present extracurricular focus on agenda-centered pollutants supposedly causing man-made global warming, White told reporters last November.
“He’s very much for clean air and clean water,” she said. “But the better home for considering this discussion about carbon dioxide and climate is in the Department of Energy.”
The Obama administration has “used the legal rubrics of the Clean Air Act really to pursue a low-carbon energy policy and really not to further environmental protection,” she said.
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