A top official from the Biden administration, who plays a pivotal role in the White House's climate agenda, is under scrutiny. This official, currently facing a congressional ethics investigation, might soon lose her entire taxpayer-funded salary.
The Senate is gearing up for a vote this week. The focus? An amendment was proposed by Senators Ted Cruz and Cynthia Lummis.
This amendment aims to defund Ann Carlson, the acting administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Despite facing challenges in the Senate confirmation process earlier, Carlson continues to lead the NHTSA.
The White House had withdrawn Carlson's nomination for the NHTSA administrator role in May. This decision followed opposition led by Cruz, who raised ethical concerns about Carlson's environmental activism and her role in fundraising for a law firm involved in climate litigation against oil companies.
While serving as an environmental law professor at UCLA, Carlson was reportedly deeply involved in supporting a California law firm, Sher Edling. This firm has been at the forefront of litigation against fossil fuel companies.
Their argument? The oil industry has known about the impacts of climate change for decades and has done little to address it.
Furthermore, Carlson, in collaboration with Dan Emmett from the Emmett Institute on Climate Change & the Environment, secured funding for Sher Edling's work, Fox News reported.
This funding came indirectly through a dark money fund, with support from Terry Tamminen, who was the CEO of the Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation at the time.
Between 2017 and 2020, the Collective Action Fund for Accountability, Resilience, and Adaptation (CAF) transferred over $5.2 million to Sher Edling.
In 2021, the firm received an additional $3 million from CAF. Carlson's financial disclosures also revealed her pro bono consulting work for Sher Edling, specifically on its litigation against oil companies.
A memo from the Republican Commerce Committee staff highlighted Carlson's involvement with Sher Edling. It was noted that unpaid law students from UCLA, under Carlson's institute, provided free legal services to the firm.
The memo also emphasized that both Carlson and Sher Edling have been less than transparent about their collaboration.
Sher Edling, in a letter to Cruz and House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer, clarified that Carlson's consultations for the firm ended by 2020.
The nature of her consultations was reportedly limited to general legal issues related to climate damage cases. However, the firm remained tight-lipped about the specifics of Carlson's involvement and the source of their funding.
In her capacity as the acting NHTSA administrator, Carlson introduced stringent fuel economy standards.
Critics argue that these regulations could significantly hike car prices and push consumers towards electric vehicles. Carlson defended the regulations, stating they aim to "reduce harmful emissions."
Tom Jones, president of the American Accountability Foundation, expressed his concerns. He stated that Carlson's appointment, despite her Senate rejection, is a significant scandal that President Biden must address.
Jones criticized Carlson's efforts to phase out gasoline-powered cars, labeling her approach as extreme.