October 13, 2017 / 9:15 PM / a year ago

Green groups criticise Trump pick for White House environmental policy post

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Green groups on Friday slammed U.S. President Donald Trump for choosing a nominee for White House environmental panel who wrote in an opinion article last year that carbon dioxide is not a pollutant.

The White House said on Thursday that Trump had nominated Kathleen Hartnett White, who served as Texas’s top environmental regulator under the state’s former governor, U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry, to the White House Council on Environmental Quality. The council sets the administration’s environmental policy goals.

White, now a senior fellow at the Texas Public Policy Institute, has questioned the notion that burning fossil fuels is causing harmful increases in global temperatures. In an opinion article -ed in the Austin American-Statesman newspaper on June 20, 2016, she said natural gas had been “falsely maligned” and should be known as the “gas of life.”

Environmental Working Group President Ken Cook said on Friday that assertion indicated that White would facilitate “the rampant looting of environmental and public health protection policies,” according to a news release. The Environmental Working Group describes itself as “a non-profit, non-partisan organisation dedicated to protecting human health and the environment.”

The Sierra Club environmental group called White “a fossil fuel industry apologist” in a news release on Friday.

White did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

“Kathleen Hartnett White is eminently qualified having served as an environmental regulator and on numerous environmental boards and commissions,” a White House spokeswoman said.

“Her nomination was cleared by the Office of Government Ethics. We look forward to Mrs. White being confirmed.”

An overwhelming majority of scientists think that carbon dioxide emissions from burning fossil fuels is a major contributor to global climate change, triggering sea level rise, droughts and more frequent violent storms.

White is not the first person Trump has picked to join his administration who rejects that scientific consensus. In March, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt said he did not believe carbon dioxide was a major contributor to global warming.

Reporting by Emily Flitter; Editing by Jonathan Oatis

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