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Latino Group Protests Trump Environmental Nominee

Many activists believe the flooding in Houston was worsened by climate change, and oppose the nomination of climate skeptic Kathleen Hartnett White to the federal Council on Environmental Quality. (Crap Mariner/Wikimedia Commons)
Many activists believe the flooding in Houston was worsened by climate change, and oppose the nomination of climate skeptic Kathleen Hartnett White to the federal Council on Environmental Quality. (Crap Mariner/Wikimedia Commons)
January 4, 2018

PHOENIX -- Leaders in Arizona's Latino community are speaking out against President Donald Trump's presumptive nominee to head the Council on Environmental Quality.

Critics say Kathleen Hartnett White's record and positions make her a poor choice to head the agency that advises the White House on environmental policy. Masavi Perea is program director at Chispa Arizona, part of the League of Conservation Voters. She said when Hartnett White was Texas Director of Environmental Quality, she directed staff to falsify data on radiation levels in drinking water in order to avoid telling local residents about cancer risks that were more than 20-times higher than the allowable federal standard.

"It was very sad. She didn't protect the kids and the families that drink water in Texas,” Perea said. "And it was a cancer risk, and she didn't care. She was just trying to do what the corporations tell her to do."

In 2011, Hartnett White told a Houston television station that she directed staff to subtract the margin of error in the radiation tests because she disagreed with the science on health effects that had been used. And she said she thought it would cost communities too much money to comply with clean water standards.

The Senate did not vote to advance Hartnett White's nomination in the fall, so she will now have to be re-nominated by the President.

Perea noted that Hartnett White has long been a supporter of the fossil fuel industry, as well as a critic of renewable energy and efforts to address climate change.

"Mrs. Hartnett White is a person who rejects science, someone who denies climate change,” Perea said. "It will put us in danger."

After she testified at a hearing in the Senate late last year, more than 300 scientists sent a letter to the committee opposing Hartnett White's nomination.

Suzanne Potter, Public News Service - AZ