Carol Browner, a champion of legislation to slow climate growth
and an Al Gore ally, is returning to familiar real estate but
in a newly created position, as President-elect Barack Obama's
who was the longest serving Environmental Protection Agency administrator
under former President Bill Clinton from 1993 to 2001, will be
charged with coordinating environment and energy initiatives across
the administration. While it's unclear exactly what role Browner
will play as the head of a new White House energy and environment
council, she is certain to play a key role advising Mr. Obama
on climate matters.
Browner left a strong legacy at the EPA and before leaving office
in 2001 she spearheaded imposing EPA authority to regulate carbon
emissions that cause climate change. The Supreme Court ruled in
favor of the power, though the Bush administration has refused
to use it.
After the Supreme Court's decision, Browner told the NewsHour
in April of 2007, "The case was about cars, but there's no
reason for EPA not to take this opinion and look more broadly
This opinion will be very significant, in terms of all
of the other sectors where EPA could be using its power today
to regulate carbon."
Browner has made her opposition to President Bush's environmental
policies known, calling his time in office "the worst environmental
administration ever." Among the charges she has leveled at
the administration are that its policies undermine scientists
and undercut past clean air improvements.
Browner has called for a cap-and-trade system to control carbon
dioxide emissions and supports California's ambitious global warming
law, which will force automakers to cut emissions more drastically
than current federal law.
During her time at the EPA Browner successfully fought back efforts
by Republicans in Congress to amend the Clean Water Act. She also
consulted with business interests on issues of regulation and
argued against the concept that meeting tough environmental standards
was too costly for businesses.
"Time and time again ... naysayers have warned that it will
cost too much, that it will impose an enormous economic burden,"
Browner told a congressional hearing last September. "But
once we have set those standards, American ingenuity and innovation
have found a solution at a far lower costs than predicted."
Politico called Browner "Obama's most pleasing pick so far
for the politically potent left wing of the Democratic Party."
But she had plenty of critics over her drive for regulation. In
1997 when she successfully pushed for tougher clean air regulations,
the Orlando Sentinel reported "The nation's mayors are unhappy.
Chicago's Richard Daley and others have said the new limits could
quash economic development in inner cities," the New Republic
The EPA was also accused in 1995 of violating the Anti-Lobbying
Act by sending documents opposing a Republican-backed regulatory
reform initiative to interest groups.
Prior to her work at the EPA, Browner worked for Florida's department
of environmental regulation from 1991 to 1993. A close ally to
former Vice President Al Gore, Browner worked as a legislative
director for him while he was a senator.
Since leaving the EPA in 2000, Browner has been a principal of
the Albright Group, a consulting firm, and Albright Capital Management,
an investment adviser. She is a senior adviser on the Obama transition
Browner is married to Thomas Downey, a former New York Democratic
congressman, and has a son.