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What’s the Council on Environmental Quality and Why Is Trump’s Nominee Controversial?

by Countable | 12.5.17

What’s the Council on Environmental Quality?

The CEQ, a division of the Executive Branch, coordinates environmental and energy policies between the White House and other federal agencies.

While the Trump administration has removed the CEQ page from Whitehouse.gov, the archived page from the Obama administration explained that one of the council’s "major responsibilities is to develop and recommend national policies to the president that promote the improvement of environmental quality and meet the nation's goals."

In 1969, Congress enacted the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) to "declare a national policy which will encourage productive and enjoyable harmony between man and his environment; to promote efforts which will prevent or eliminate damage to the environment…; to enrich the understanding of the…natural resources important to the Nation; and to establish a Council on Environmental Quality."

CEQ’s role is to oversee the implementation of NEPA, "principally through issuing guidance and interpreting regulations that implement NEPA's procedural requirements." The CEQ also:

  • Reviews and approves federal agency NEPA procedures.

  • Approves alternative arrangements for compliance with NEPA during emergency situations.

  • Helps resolve disputes between federal agencies, other governmental entities, and members of the public

Why Is Trump’s Nominee Controversial?

The chair can be thought of as the liaison between the White House and other federal agencies on environmental efforts.

The position had remained vacant, until President Donald Trump nominated Kathleen Hartnett White - former chair of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality - to lead the council. Last year, White said that climate change science was "highly uncertain" and that “renewables are a false hope.”

In response to Trump’s nomination, over 300 scientists published a letter telling Congress to oppose White’s confirmation "because the one thing more dangerous than climate change is lying."

"There is unanimous agreement across peer-reviewed climate science that carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases released by human activities are contributing to the harmful effects of climate change. To state otherwise in the face of overwhelming evidence is simply unsupportable," the group of concerned scientists wrote.

White’s nomination, however, is consistent with Trump and his administration’s views on climate change. Both the President and Environmental Protection Agency head Scott Pruitt have questioned the validity of climate change.

But the scientists pushed back, writing:

"This is not a partisan issue; it is a matter of defending scientific integrity. Climate change threatens us all, regardless of political affiliation. Confirming…White at the helm of the Council on Environmental Quality would have serious consequences for people and the ecosystems of the only planet that can support us."

What do you think?

The Senate Environment and Public Works Committee cleared White’s nomination last Wednesday, and she awaits a full Senate vote. How do you want your rep voting? Hit Take Action and let them know—then share your thoughts below.

—Josh Herman

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(Photo Credit: microgen / iStockphoto)

Countable

Written by Countable

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(12)
  • Rebecca
    12/05/2017
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    Another bought & paid for puppet of the fossil fuel industry. Renewable energy is the only sustainable future for any country! Anyone who says different is delusional!

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  • Luke
    12/05/2017
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    Anyone who does not support and recognize the dangers of climate change and the benefits of renewable energy does not belong in any political office. Period.

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  • Countryfirst
    12/06/2017
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    Another moronic choice for an important environmental position. This candidate is TOTALLY unacceptable and unqualified..another way to kill the environment and make money for big oil companies..disgusting choice!

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  • NoHedges
    12/06/2017
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    What happened to using data-driven decision making and supporting the findings released a couple months ago? Yep, thought so. Just an empty PR stunt. And while we are on the subject of PARTY BIAS PR, since when did our legal system decide that prosecution of sexual misconduct is a partisan issue? HAS ANYONE EVEN READ THE 14th AMENDMENT. All persons born or naturalized in the United States and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws. I, as a female constituent and citizens of this Great Nation, demand my rights for equal protection under the law from sexual misconduct, harassment, and rape! That is including those Republicans, whose cases meet the same level of probable cause as Conyers, Are there seriously no lawyers willing to make history and stand up to the abuses. You all thought Jim Crow laws were detrimental to societal fabric, you ain't seen nothing yet. If the 14th doesn't work for you then try the 5th. There is even precedent on the books.

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  • Hillary
    12/06/2017
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    Pretending that climate change and environmental sciences are not real in order to rape the land for more profit is transparent and evil. We know you are saying this for one reason only-to finally make the money you claim to have and to pay back those who pretended to believe you. The problem is that you have children and grandchildren who will suffer just like the rest of us when the evil you have wrought on this planet becomes impossible to ignore. Your offspring will be gasping for air just like a poor kid, your offspring will be consumed by malignant tumors just like a poor kid, your offspring will become dehydrated for lack of clean, safe water just like a poor kid. The only difference at that point is that the poor kids all over the world won’t bear the shame of knowing their dad and granddad could have worked to prevent their suffering.

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  • S
    12/05/2017
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    I expect Bill Johnson, Rob Portman, and Sherwood Brown to oppose the seating of Kathleen Hartnett White. Climate change is real. We all have a stake in keeping this earth from being destroyed by factors which we have directly under our control. You may like to pretend climate change doesn’t exist, you may like to pretend you know more than the scientific community but pretending doesn’t make it so. The environment is not yours and it is not partisan. You don’t get something extra from the environment if you deny climate change. What you do give to yourself, your family and your future generations is an earth in peril. Is that something you want to chance for your family? Or are you so arrogant as to believe your own hype! Do something right for once!!

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  • Russell
    12/05/2017
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    For the Council on Environmental Quality the tRump administration candidate is unacceptable. “This is not a partisan issue; it is a matter of defending scientific integrity. Climate change threatens us all, regardless of political affiliation. Confirming…White at the helm of the Council on Environmental Quality would have serious consequences for people and the ecosystems of the only planet that can support us."

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  • Jaia
    12/07/2017
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    Another bought & paid for puppet of the fossil fuel industry. Renewable energy is the only sustainable future for any country! Anyone who says different is delusional!

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  • Gail
    12/05/2017
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    America is being eaten alive by greedy, old predators. Sexual predators. Financial predators. Eating America’s wealth and bounty to bankrupt your children, accosting underage women acceptable. Gross. Immoral. Shameless. May you pay for your ravening greed. Decimating the environment seems to be a top priority, turning America into a wasteland.

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  • Bernardine
    12/05/2017
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    Please vote against the trump nominee for this post. How much more does he need to do to convince you that he is deliberately trying to destroy this country!

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  • Donna
    12/05/2017
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    This confirmation needs to be defeated although I seriously doubt the puppet Senate will do so. It is about time my elected officials stopped rubber-stamping any unqualified, reckless and dangerous nominee put before them. The head of this agency is more important now that the Republican caucus voted to confirm Scott Pruitt as head of the EPA. That was one of the most irresponsible acts taken yet. Does the environment and health and well-being of American citizens, today and in future generations, really mean that little to our government? We have only one planet. It has sustained human life for thousands of years. Isn't it our responsibility to insure the policies of the US do not impede that ability in the future?

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  • Shawn
    12/05/2017
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    Please do not let this awful lying nominee get confirmed for anything having to do with environmental protection in our government. As someone who is still on the fence about the reality of climate change and calls renewable energy methods a “false hope” they are clearly uninformed and unqualified to hold such s position and will cause much harm to our environment and public health at a time where we can’t afford to get it wrong.

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