"With Kelly Craft's nomination, we have been sent a nominee who will personally profit from the continued burning of fossil fuels and who infamously proclaimed that there are 'good scientists on both sides' of the climate debate", Merkley said. "Kelly Craft is an unacceptable nominee to lead the US's engagement with the global community at this critical juncture".
Craft's husband, billionaire Joseph Craft, is the CEO of coal giant Alliance Resource Partners, a company that has complained that global climate change mechanisms including the 2016 Paris Agreement have had a negative impact on the industry.
Craft, during a Senate hearing on her nomination earlier on Wednesday, said she would, if confirmed as UN ambassador, advocate for all countries to do their part to address climate change. She also admitted that climate change poses a real risk to the planet, and that human behavior has contributed to the global shift.
During the hearing, Craft promised to recuse herself from UN climate change discussions in which coal is part of the conversation.
Craft, if confirmed, would succeed Nikki Haley, who stepped down from her post as US ambassador to the United Nations at the end of 2018.
Craft has previous experience working for the US government during the presidency of George W. Bush, as she was selected to serve as a United States Delegate to the United Nations in 2007.