WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the minority members of the Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee called on Kathleen Hartnett White, President Trump’s nominee to lead the White House Council on Environmental Quality and serve as his most senior environmental advisor, to submit new and original responses to questions for the record after it was discovered that at least 18 of her responses were copied verbatim from responses previously submitted to the committee. Repeatedly, Ms. White’s answers to questions of opinion – on issues including climate change, hazardous air pollutants and environmental justice – matched answers previously provided by President Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) nominees, including EPA Administrator Pruitt and EPA Assistant Administrator Bill Wehrum.
In a letter led by Ranking Member Tom Carper (D-Del.), the lawmakers wrote, “We write to request additional information about your responses to questions for the record sent to you by Members of the Environment and Public Works Committee after your confirmation hearing…We are troubled that it appears that you have cut and pasted from the written answers of other nominees in your responses to questions that were submitted to you.”
The senators requested that Ms. Hartnett White identify and give appropriate citation to all responses that include someone else’s work and submit new answers to each of the plagiarized responses that represent her own views by December 22, 2017.
Senator Carper was joined by Senators Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Bernard Sanders (I-Vt.), Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) and Kamala Harris (D-Calif.).
The text of the letter is available below and here.
December 12, 2017
Dear Ms. White:
We write to request additional information about your responses to questions for the record sent to you by Members of the Environment and Public Works Committee after your confirmation hearing. In at least 18 instances (attached), your responses to these questions included language that also appeared verbatim in responses to questions for the record received from EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, and EPA’s Assistant Administrator for Air and Radiation, Bill Wehrum.
For example, when asked a question about EPA’s Mercury and Air Toxics (MATS) rule, you stated:
“The quantifiable monetized benefits of the HAP reductions predicted to occur under MATS measured only a few million dollars. I understand that EPA has recalculated the benefits attributable to MATS in response to the Supreme Court remand. I am not familiar with the new estimates and I cannot prejudge any decision that might be made by EPA as it conducts its ongoing review of the rule.”
Mr. Wehrum stated the following in response to a similar question:
“The quantifiable monetized benefits of the HAP reductions predicted to occur under MATS measured only a few million dollars. I understand that EPA has recalculated the benefits attributable to MATS in response to the Supreme Court remand. I am not familiar with the new estimates. If confirmed, I intend to consider them objectively.”
Similarly, in response to five questions about climate change submitted to you by Senators Merkley, Sanders and Whitehouse, you stated:
“If confirmed, I will work to ensure that any regulatory actions are based on the most up to date and objective scientific data, including the ever-evolving understanding of the impact that increasing greenhouse gases have on our changing climate.”
Mr. Pruitt responded to a similar question as follows:
“If confirmed, I will work to ensure that any regulatory actions are based on the most up to date and objective scientific data, including the ever-evolving understanding of the impact increasing greenhouse gases have on our changing climate. I will also adhere to the applicable statutory authorities to fulfill EPA’s mission to protect human health and the environment consistent with the process and rule of law established by congress. I also believe the Administrator has an important role when it comes to the regulation of carbon dioxide, which I will fulfill consistent with Massachusetts v. EPA and the agency's Endangerment Finding on Greenhouse Gases respective of the applicable statutory framework established by Congress. I believe the most effective path towards achieving these objectives is through close partnership with the states granting them regulatory leeway as ascribed by the rule of law.”
We are troubled that it appears that you have cut and pasted from the written answers of other nominees in your responses to questions that were submitted to you. We request that you promptly provide responses to the following questions:
- Please list each response to a question for the record submitted to you by any Member of the Environment and Public Works Committee for which you either plagiarized someone else’s work or that you did not write part or all of the answer yourself.
- For each item listed in your response to question 1, please list the source or person from which you derived part or all of your response.
- Please submit a new answer to each such item that represents your own views and effort.
Thank you very much for your attention to this important matter. Please provide your response no later than close of business on Friday December 22, 2017.