Dec 14, 2017

Top White House enviro pick rebuts plagiarism charges

President Trump's pick to lead the White House Council on Environmental Quality says her written responses to senators' questions represent “my views," despite some language that's identical to prior submissions from nominees for top EPA jobs.

“[I]t should not be a surprise that I share the views of my fellow nominees on a number of issues. In preparing my responses, I sought to reiterate positions already stated that are reflective of my own," said Kathleen Hartnett White.

Why it matters: White, a former Texas regulator now with the conservative Texas Public Policy Foundation, is in line for a key role coordinating administration environmental policy. It's not clear if the allegations will hinder White's nomination, but she already had a somewhat rocky confirmation hearing last month.

White's comment comes in a letter seen by Axios prepared in response to a letter about her written answers from Sen. Tom Carper, the top Democrat on the Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, which is the panel that vetted her nomination.

Earlier this week Carper and colleagues highlighted responses on climate change, air pollution, and environmental justice that contained some identical wording to submissions from EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt and Bill Wehrum, EPA's top air quality official, when their nominations were pending.

One level deeper: White's brief response says two top Obama-era officials used a similar approach. “My understanding is that this is not unusual and was the case for CEQ Chair Nancy Sutley and EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson in responses provided to you and other senators in their confirmation proceedings," the letter states.

White's nomination moved through the EPW Committee on a party line vote late last month. Democrats have strongly criticized White for her statements challenging the dominant scientific views on human-induced global warming.

White has also come under fire from some farm-state GOP lawmakers for her past criticisms of the federal ethanol mandate, but she walked back those comments during her confirmation hearing in November.

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