The nomination of a climate change sceptic to serve as President Donald Trump's top environmental adviser has been withdrawn, according to the White House.
The full Senate declined to consider Kathleen Hartnett White's nomination in late December, following a bruising confirmation hearing where she struggled to answer basic science questions. Hartnett White's nomination expired previous year after Democratic opposition stalled her confirmation.
The administration released a statement Sunday in which Hartnett White asked that her name be pulled from further consideration, effective immediately.
Trump would have had to resubmit White's nomination.
The withdrawal of her nomination sets into motion the search for a new head of CEQ, which Trump has tasked with narrowing and accelerating environmental reviews in step with the administration's infrastructure push.
"Hartnett White suggested that climate regulation is a conspiracy pushed by communists", Mose Buchele of member station KUT reported in November. Democrats were particularly incensed by her renomination.
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Merkley noted that there are multiple quotes from White "calling environmentalists Marxist, and those who are concerned about climate change as pagans".
In a hearing in front of the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, White admitted human activities play some role in warming the planet, but qualified her statement, saying: "the extent to which, I think, is very uncertain".
"Whether emitted from the human use of fossil fuels or as a natural (and necessary) gas in the atmosphere surrounding the earth, carbon dioxide has none of the attributes of a pollutant", Hartnett White wrote in a 2014 paper.
No Republican publicly opposed Hartnett-White. The White House council coordinates federal environmental policy and actions among agencies and with states. Democrats argued her views were too "extreme" and that she had shown "disrespect" for science and environmental laws.
Her long history of hard-line beliefs - many of which fly in the face of science and history - and overwhelming lack of qualification for the position she sought gained new attention this week with a rundown in the Daily Beast. "Hartnett-White was all three - a trifecta", he said.
As a result of the cool response, the White as reportedly chose to withdraw White's nomination.