Editorial Roundup: Hartnett has terrible environmental record

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By Associated Press

The Dallas Morning News

Kathleen Hartnett White is a bad choice to head the national Council on Environmental Quality.
If confirmed by the U.S. Senate, she would lead a White House office that’s traditionally known as an environmental watchdog. Her performance as an environmental regulator in Texas, however, suggests that she would walk lock step with the Trump administration and Scott Pruitt’s Environmental Protection Agency in dismantling vital environmental protections.
President Donald Trump named White, a climate change denier, to the position last week.
Her record is abominable. White consistently sided with business interests at the expense of public health as chair of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. She lobbied for lax ozone standards and, at a time when all but the most ardent fossil fuel apologists understood that coal isn’t the nation’s future, White signed a permit for a lignite-fired power plant, ignoring evidence that emissions from the lignite plant could thwart North Texas’ efforts to meet air quality standards.
That’s why this newspaper steadfastly questioned her leadership at the Texas commission and called her an apologist for energy interests.
We weren’t the only ones dismayed by her record.
In 2003, the state auditor concluded that the White-led Texas commission failed to hold violators accountable for breaking the law, applied fines that amounted to barely 40 percent of the profits the companies made by breaking the law, and introduced policies that weakened its own regulations.
Since leaving the Texas Commission for Environmental Quality in 2007 after six years, White has become an outspoken critic of climate change policies and the science behind them.
In her writings, she advocates for more coal production, argues against adding renewable energy to the power grid and opposes the Environmental Protection Agency’s treatment of carbon dioxide as a pollutant despite countless studies that show it is.
The nation needs a White House adviser who respects science and seeks a reasoned balance between energy needs and environmental protections.
Kathleen Hartnett White does neither.
Congress should reject this nomination.

The Chicago Tribune

When Anthony Rizzo, Kris Bryant and Kyle Schwarber connect at the plate, their exit velocity – the speed at which the ball leaves the bat – often exceeds 100 mph. A ball hit that hard travels 146 feet in about a second.
And spectators sitting far closer to home plate than that are unprotected and virtually helpless.
The netting at Chicago’s Wrigley Field extends only far enough to shield Cubs fans sitting within 70 feet. Netting at Guaranteed Rate Field, home of the White Sox, offers similar protection, in line with the current recommendations from Major League Baseball.
Last season, a fan sitting close to the field at Wrigley was hit by a ball that broke his nose and cost him his left eye. He’s suing the Cubs and Major League Baseball for alleged negligence in not providing longer netting.
Baseball stadiums are places that fans go to relax, drink beer, eat hot dogs and chat with their friends. Getting a serious injury from a screaming projectile is not in anyone’s plan.
Teams could furnish far more protection, or local governments could force them to. Or everybody could wait until someone else gets killed.

The New York Times

Toward the end of the Obama administration, the Justice Department called on judges to end the cash-register system of justice that had taken root across the country. In what is a clearly unconstitutional practice, people in localities nationwide were being sent to jail solely because they were too poor to pay the fines and fees that municipalities increasingly rely on for revenue.
Some states heeded the advice, and progress was made. Now, a report from the United States Commission on Civil Rights shows what the Trump Justice Department needs to do to keep the momentum up for reform.
The Obama administration brought this issue out into the open in 2015 during its investigation of policing in the racially troubled city of Ferguson, Mo., which exploded in violence in 2014 after a police officer shot and killed a black teenager named Michael Brown.
Investigators found that the city’s policing tactics were both discriminatory and driven by a city budget that relied heavily on fines and fees associated with minor violations.
In a quest for revenue, Ferguson officers trapped poor and minority citizens in a Kafka-esque cycle that began with fines they could not pay and led to crippling financial penalties, revoked driver’s licenses, jail time, lost jobs and ruined lives. The investigation showed that municipalities had essentially recreated debtor prisons, violating the Constitution by punishing people for being poor.
Some judges have been outspoken about unfair use of fines. Last year, for example, the chief justice of Arizona issued an administrative order authorizing judges to mitigate mandatory fines and fees if the amount imposed an economic hardship and advised a state task force to take other steps.
The chief justice of the Ohio Supreme Court went further this year, admonishing politicians for treating the courts like “A.T.M.s,” and pointing out, “No one in America should be sent to jail — or threatened with jail — solely because they are poor.”