The Institute for Energy Research is a not-for-profit organization that conducts intensive research and analysis on the functions, operations, and government regulation of global energy markets.

About IER
Latest Analysis
October 18, 2017

Kathleen Hartnett White: A Scholar for CEQ

October 18, 2017
Print Friendly
Facebook

“Public discourse about global warming and climate policies ignores fundamental physical realities about energy and overlooks the profound benefits of carbon-rich energy.”

Stephen Moore and Kathleen Hartnett White, Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy (Washington, DC: Regnery, 2016), p. 122.

Last week, President Trump announced his intent to nominate Kathleen Hartnett White to chair the Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ). A division of the Executive Office of the President, CEQ “coordinates Federal environmental efforts and works with agencies and White House offices in the development of environmental policies and initiatives … that promote the improvement of environmental quality and meet the Nation’s goals.”

White, formerly chairwoman of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, currently heads the energy and environmental program at the Texas Public Policy Foundation.

In addition to her private-sector and public-sector experience, White is a scholar, having written Fossil Fuels: The Moral Case (Texas Public Policy Foundation: 2014) and, most recently (with Stephen Moore), Fueling Freedom: Exposing the Mad War on Energy (Regnery: 2016), as well as numerous shorter pieces.

Fueling Freedom, a 300-page multidisciplinary energy primer, reflects many years of study and analysis by this very well qualified nominee. A major theme is the relationship between sound public policy and clear thinking. “A grasp of a few hard facts, a little arithmetic, and some basic physics are necessary to avoid calamitous blunders in energy policy,” she writes. (p. 78)

A sampling of her conclusions and views is provided below.

Energy Expansionism

“A sustainable energy abundance is no longer in question. We now know that [mineral] energy resources that were thought to be running out will be plentiful for several hundred more years.” (p. 66)

“Like every other nation, we should be developing our own oil and natural gas resources. This is a simple matter of economics.” (p. 245)

“From an economic competitive standpoint, for the United States to stop producing fossil fuels would be like Iowa’s giving up corn or Columbia’s giving up coffee.” (p. 23)

“Producing American energy is the single best means of balancing the federal budget, eliminating our trade deficit, and retiring our nineteen-trillion-dollar national debt.” (p. x)

“If the United States, with its wide-open and decentralized oil industry, can act as the swing producer, the global oil market can function as a genuinely competitive market.” (p. 39)

“Although not in principle renewable, fossil fuels remain abundant enough to sustain economic growth for many centuries until fully comparable or superior energy sources are genuinely available at scale.” (p. 135)

Fossil Fuel Exceptionalism

“Fossil fuels are wonder fuels. If we want a just, prosperous, healthy, and safe world that respects the rights and dignity of the individual, we have a moral imperative to use them in a responsible and productive way.” (p. 26)

“The prophets of doom have the story backward: the abundant energy that is a product of human ingenuity makes our planet habitable, not inhabitable.” (p. 97)

“Fossil fuels have been one of the greatest anti-poverty programs in history, improving the human condition more than all of the trillions of dollars of government welfare programs and foreign aid programs combined. By contrast, most forms of green energy aren’t green at all. They’re a prescription to make the poor poorer.” (p. 166)

“Spread the news! Man’s carbon footprint shrinks his physical footprint on the earth.” (p. 155)

Energy Physics/Energy Reality

“Concentrated energy sources confer enormous advantages for extraction, transport, and storage and allow versatile conversions… Quantifying the power density of different fuels reveals glaring contrasts between renewable energy sources and fossil fuels.” (pp. 82, 83)

“Coal, natural gas, and nuclear generation have far greater power density than wind, sunlight, or wood (biomass) as a source of [electrical] generation.” (p. 84)

“America’s $18-trillion industrial economy cannot be powered with windmills and solar paneling unless we can transcend the four laws of thermodynamics, the application of which put man on the moon, led to micro-processors, semiconductors, and innumerable technological breakthroughs that have extended our life spans and improved human life across the world.” (p. 170)

“Fossil fuels proved to be abundant sources of energy, scalable and reliable in a way that many forms of renewable energy are not.” (p. xiv)

“The inherent limitations of wind and solar are physically intractable.” (p. xv)

“Denial of the severe limitations of renewable energy has been institutionalized in national governments and global organizations such as the United Nations.” (p. 144)

“We will be highly reliant on fossil fuels for at least the next several decades.” (p. x)

Carbon Dioxide: Positive Externality

“Carbon dioxide is an odorless, invisible, harmless, and completely natural gas lacking any characteristic of a pollutant. It does not contaminate or defile as pollutants do.” (p. 212)

“Carbon dioxide in the air we breathe has no adverse health effects, in contrast to carbon monoxide and high concentrations of the genuine pollutants listed in the Clean Air Act, the source of the EPA’s authority to regulate air pollutants.” (p. 212)

“… the chief factor limiting plant productivity—photosynthetic efficiency—is the level of atmospheric carbon dioxide, which is currently at a relatively low level compared with previous eras in the earth’s long history.” (p. 95)

“Human activity over the past two centuries has inadvertently enriched the atmosphere with carbon dioxide. At the same time, fossil fuels have shrunk the human footprint on the natural world by amplifying the food supply per acre of arable land through natural gas–based fertilizers and other fossil fuel inputs.” (p. 155)

“According to hundreds of scientific studies, the relatively slight increase in the atmospheric concentration of carbon dioxide has enhanced native and cultivated plant productivity, growth, moisture retention, and resistance to pests.” (p. 156)

“Labeling carbon dioxide a pollutant is one of the climate-change lobby’s more absurd gestures…. In fact, carbon dioxide is a plant nutrient essential for all human, animal, and plant life.” (p. 211)

“‘Decarbonizing’ is a delusional concept. Our bodies are built of carbon. It is the chemical basis of life on earth.” (p. 46)

“… our carbon footprint is the means by which we live longer, healthier, and freer lives than our ancestors did only a century ago.” (pp. 45–46)

“Show me someone who uses very little carbon, and I will show you someone who is likely very poor (or very, very rich).” (p. 46)

“Global warming alarmists refuse to acknowledge a fundamental truth about carbon dioxide. This natural molecule, which [former] Secretary of State John Kerry calls a ‘weapon of mass destruction,’ amplifies life.” (p. 155)

Energy Politics

“Never before have the rulers of a society intentionally driven it backward to scarcer, more expensive, and less efficient energy.” (p. xv)

“The agenda of the so-called green movement, one of the most influential political forces in America today, does not end with carbon-based energy. It is a war on free-market economics.” (p. 2)

“The Left’s strategy is to make American coal so expensive that the industry can’t survive in global markets.” (p. 9)

“The goal of climate policies is to eliminate the coal, oil, and natural gas on which the world relies for 80 to 90 percent of its energy.” (p. 11)

Energy Freedom vs. Policy Poverty

“Most green energy policies undermine human progress. They are regressive, disproportionately hurting low- and middle-income families by driving energy prices higher, thus eroding their standard of living.” (p. 8)

“Without fully comparable energy alternatives, climate policies to rapidly subvert the energy-rich hydrocarbons risk a necessary foundation for human well-being and economic productivity.” (p. 123)

“Energy scarcity in Great Britain and Germany is the result of a deliberate choice to dismantle a well-functioning system of modern electric power and replace it with a system that is more expensive, uncontrollable, and inadequate.” (p. 196)

Clean Power Plan

“[The] so-called Clean Power Plan … is futile—all pain and no gain. By EPA’s own admission, the mandated carbon cuts will not meaningfully reduce predicted warming.” (p. 9)

“The Clean Power Plan is not merely another heavy-handed, expensive environmental regulation. It is nothing less than a federal takeover of our nation’s entire electric sector.” (p. 11)

Ethanol Policy

“Ethanol policy is a prime example of counterproductive, outdated, and ethnically offensive federal energy policy.” (p. 48)

“The ethanol policies of the United States, which transform a basic food into an optional fuel, have been widely condemned by international institutions developed to eliminating hunger.” (pp. 159–60)

“Promoters of ethanol pitch it as a way to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, yet research has shown that ethanol probably increases such emissions.” (p. 161)

Post-Climate Policy

“Given the weakening evidence for severe global warming and the counterproductive consequences of climate policies, surely increased economic growth offers the better bet for adaptation to whatever change in our climate may lie ahead.” (p. 21)

“We have found a $50-trillion treasure [of potential fossil-fuel production] lying under our feet. The income tax and royalty payments to the federal government would be $3–4 trillion over twenty years.” (p. 243)

Print Friendly

View Comments
  • Scott Nasson

    Wow
    Erudite-sounding and self delusion.
    All those points make sense to the gullible and simple-minded. None look at or address long-term effects of temperature rise on a global scale. Just what the Trump administration is looking for.

  • OldGP

    To call her a scholar is funny. Would be the same as calling me, an old fashioned Md, an economic expert. She’s been indoctrinated and used her entire career. I guess the money and attention made it worthwhile.

  • Max Kummerow

    I had a kind of vision of West Virginia and Texas fifty years from now with polluted water, played out coal mines and depleted oil fields. Meanwhile China will be powered up with solar panels and windmills. The U.S.A. will no longer be running the show. And Texas, already flooded by four feet of rain in Harvey, will be cutting stocking rates of cattle as forage production drops in the heat and drought. And Ms. White will be blaming scientists for not warning us. Turn up them air conditioners and spew out some more of that beneficial CO2. There’s a Texas expression: So dumb she couldn’t pour piss out of a boot if the instructions were written on the heel.

Back to top