Stop Me if You’ve Heard This Before — Kathleen Hartnett White’s Nomination
by Anthony Adragna (Politico’s Morning Energy) Two corn-state Republican EPW senators – Deb Fischer and Joni Ernst – are publicly undecided about Kathleen Hartnett White’s nomination to run the White House Council on Environmental Quality after meeting with her over past critical comments toward the Renewable Fuel Standard. “I am withholding judgement right now,” Fischer told reporters Thursday. A spokeswoman for Ernst said she plans to ask additional questions on White’s views at her Nov. 8 confirmation hearing. Remember: Just one Republican defection sinks a nomination in the tightly divided EPW panel.
What has White said about the RFS? She has been far more vocally opposed than even Bill Wehrum, whose selection to run the air office was briefly delayed over the issue. Back in July 2013, she wrote: “It is time to repeal the renewable fuel standard – not to expand or entrench this market distortion.” White also wrote its importance to the Iowa presidential caucuses explains the durability of the “counterproductive and ethically dubious” RFS in her book. She’s repeatedly argued biofuels are creating a “global food crisis” and urged Congress to end the program’s “destructive food-as-fuel folly.”
Fears of a repeat from some: Jim Inhofe told ME “there’s reason to suspect” the bloc of biofuels backers might withhold support for White over her RFS stance and called their efforts to impede the Wehrum nomination “a little extreme.” But Chairman John Barrasso, as always, projected confidence when asked if he worried they’d derail the confirmation process: “I’m committed to the president’s nominees and we’re going to go ahead with the hearing next week.” READ MORE
EPW TAKES UP WHEELER, WHITE NOMS (Politico’s Morning Energy (11/8/2017))
CORNSTATERS NOT ALL SOLD ON WHITE (Politico’s Morning Energy (11/10/2017))
Trump’s top environmental pick says she has ‘many questions’ about climate change (The Washington Post)
The two GOP senators who could torpedo Trump’s environmental nominee over ethanol (The Washington Examiner)
Excerpts from Politico’s Morning 11/8/2017: The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee will hear from two high-profile environmental nominees today: Andrew Wheeler for deputy EPA administrator and Kathleen Hartnett White to lead the White House’s Council on Environmental Quality. White has a long history of controversial statements for Democrats to pull from, including her belief that “carbon dioxide is not a pollutant,” her declaration that those who believe in climate change subscribe to a “kind of paganism ” for “secular elites,” and her 2014 blog post arguing fossil fuels helped end slavery in America.
But White’s biggest liability may prove to be her position on the Renewable Fuel Standard. As ME wrote last week, Republican Sens. Deb Fischer and Joni Ernst are wary of White, who in 2013 called for repeal of the “counterproductive and ethically dubious” RFS. A single EPW defection could tank White’s nomination, and Ernst proved last month with EPA air nominee William Wehrum that she’s willing to walk the walk when defending ethanol.
Ranking member Tom Carper summed up his questions for White to ME: “I just want to ask her, ‘Did you really say those things?’ And there’s a lot of them.” Ahead of the hearing, nearly 50 environmental advocates sent a letter urging the committee to oppose her nomination. “Ms. White is unfit to hold the highest environmental post in the government to advise the president on the most pressing environmental issues our nation faces,” the letter, signed by groups such as 350.org, the Natural Resources Defense Council and the Sierra Club, said. READ MORE
Excerpt from Politico’s Morning Edition 11/10/17: Kathleen Harnett White, Trump’s pick to chair the Council on Environmental Quality, will need the support of all the Midwesterners on the Senate Environment committee if she’s going to advance, and it looks like she still has some work to do on that front. Despite disavowing her previously staunch opposition to the Renewable Fuel Standard thanks to “new data” from Sen. Joni Ernst, White doesn’t yet have Ernst’s backing. “We’re still debating that one,” Ernst told ME. Veteran ME readers know the Iowa Republican extracted concessions from EPA on the RFS before backing new agency air chief Bill Wehrum.
Nebraska’s Deb Fischer is also “still debating” White’s nomination, and she is still looking for more information on how White would do her job. The CEQ chair doesn’t have a regulatory role on RFS, but she would offer advice to Trump. “If you look at the questioning I had, I was looking at also how she would present options to the president,” Fischer told ME. “That’s going to be her job, not necessarily on the RFS, but where she gets her data from, how she prepares that and what kind of facts she has. We’ll see how it shakes out.”
Rounds a tentative yes: Mike Rounds of South Dakota said he’s not totally on board, but, “I would lean yes as opposed to no.” He thought she answered his questions well. “What I wanted to make sure people understood is that the RFS in its current form is the minimum we can do,” he said. READ MORE