Oceans? What do oceans have to do with coal?

In what might be a slight speed bump in the Trump administration's plans to have all American schoolchildren getting a daily serving of beautiful clean coal in their school lunches, the White House this weekend withdrew its nomination of Kathleen Hartnett White to lead the White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ). In real presidential administrations, the CEQ advises the president on environmental policy and guides national policy priorities on the environment and climate change; under Trump, the council is expected to help cheerlead the expansion of coal mining and the construction of more highways. Yes, really.

But Ms. Hartnett White was spectacularly unqualified, even for a Trumper -- in fact, she was anti-qualified. While she had served as the head of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ), it must be noted that in Texas, that job mostly involved nodding and smiling while approving anything Big Oil, Big Ag, and Big Chemical wanted to do. As a cattle ranch owner and dog breeder, Hartnett White was certainly ready for that job, but over the years, she'd become a bit too vocally idiotic in her climate change denial to win confirmation by the Senate. She co-authored a 2016 book titled Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy, which argued that fossil fuels were as essential to making America great as God, Guts, and Guns, and argues that the science is still not in on whether emissions of carbon dioxide cause global warming (no, the science is not out. Really). Her carbon-pimping also tended to be embarrassingly easy to mock:

The truth is that our bodies, blood and bones are built of carbon! Carbon dioxide is a necessary nutrient for plant life, acting as the catalyst for the most essential energy conversion process on planet earth: photosynthesis.

Yes, and our bodies are mostly made of water, but too much of the stuff really will drown you. (Plus, as public health expert W.C. Fields observed, fish fuck in it.)

Hartnett White also didn't have the easiest time of it in her Senate confirmation hearing where her pure ignorance of climate science left Rhode Island Senator Sheldon Whitehouse saying he just can’t even:

Spoiler: The oceans trap over 50 percent of the excess heat in the atmosphere, a White House environmental adviser should probably know that, and no, scientists are not in disagreement over the matter. And it matters because warmer oceans are bad news for luxury golf resorts in Florida, and even less important things, like fisheries, coral reefs, and your average flooded coastal cities.

Hartnett White's nomination had been going nowhere by the end of 2017 and was sent back to the White House, but Trump re-nominated her for the CEQ post in January. Beyond her statement, the administration didn't offer any additional comment on the nomination.

The Washington Post reached out to Hartnett White's co-author on that Glorious Glorious Freedom Fuel book, Stephen Moore, for comment on the White House's withdrawal of her nomination. Moore, a fellow at the Heritage Foundation, had a super sad, because as he explained in an email, she'd been "uniquely qualified" for the job:

“She led the Texas environmental protection agency during a period of rapid growth in the Lone Star state economy and declining pollution levels,” Moore wrote. “That’s what we want for the nation. Faster growth and a cleaner environment. And she shows that prosperity and clean air can go hand in hand.”

Yup, nothing like Texas for a model of environmental stewardship, what with the 'splodey chemical plants and, more recently, the 'splodey FLOODED chemical plants, where Gov. Greg Abbott protects folks from knowing where dangerous chemicals are even stored.

The White House was careful to frame the nomination's withdrawal as Hartnett White's own decision, because this is not an administration that just casually throws people under the bus. Heavens, no: It rips the catalytic converter off the bus and makes people write a note saying "I have gone under the bus for the good of America":

“I want to thank President Trump for his confidence in me and I will continue to champion his policies and leadership on environmental and energy issues of critical importance to making our nation great, prosperous and secure again,” she said in the statement.

“I’ve been in this process for more than a year,” she continued, asking that her name be withdrawn “in the best interest of facilitating confirmation of the President’s nominees throughout his administration, as well the needs of my family and work.”

It's difficult to predict who Team Trump will find with Hartnett White's unique combination of contempt for both the environment and basic science, although we're certain the Heritage Foundation, the Heartland Institute, or the Salt Lake "Coal Rollers" Monster Truck Club will think of someone. All they have to do is find someone with exactly the same views, but fewer public statements about them.

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Doktor Zoom

Doktor Zoom's real name is Marty Kelley, and he lives in the wilds of Boise, Idaho. He is not a medical doctor, but does have a real PhD in Rhetoric. You should definitely donate some money to this little mommyblog where he has finally found acceptance and cat pictures. He is on maternity leave until 2033. Here is his Twitter, also. His quest to avoid prolixity is not going so great.


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