Carol Browner, Obama’s energy and climate ‘czar’, to leave White House

Joe Romm

Carol M. Browner, President Barack Obama’s energy adviser, plans to leave the White House in coming weeks, White House officials said Monday night.

Browner, who is Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change, was EPA administrator for all eight years under President Bill Clinton, and is one of the most experienced Washington hands in the West Wing.

Well, that’s a bombshell.

This is a big reversal from the rumors.  Earlier this month, the NYT’s John Broder reported the conventional wisdom, “Carol M. Browner, the White House coordinator for energy and climate policy, is rumored to be moving to a new post, possibly deputy chief of staff.”

That said, the catastrophic failure of the administration to pass a climate bill — heck, the failure to even get a vote in the Senate or one damn speech from the President on the gravest threat to the health and well-being of our children and future generations — must have taken its toll.  And that’s without factoring in months and months of dealing with the BP oil disaster or the prospect of two years of a hostile House of climate zombies.

Here’s more from The Politico on Browner:

Her calm, authoritative television presence during the BP oil disaster made her one of the few officials whose stature was enhanced in the aftermath of the Gulf catastrophe. But passage of a comprehensive energy bill, the chief goal of her office, seems unlikely under the House Republican majority.

Her departure comes as the West Wing undergoes a heavy makeover, including the arrival of Chief of Staff William Daley, a rare outsider in the top echelons of this administration.

Browner is likely to stay in Washington, but her future plans are undecided, according to colleagues.

“She will stay on as long as necessary to ensure an orderly transition,” a White House official said. “Carol is confident that the mission of her office will remain critical to the president, and she is pleased with what will be in the [State of the Union address] and in the budget [next month] on clean energy.

“She is proud of the administration’s accomplishments — from the historic investments in clean energy included in the Recovery Act, to the national policy on vehicle efficiency that will save 1.8 billion barrels of oil and lower consumers’ prices at the pump.

“On the question of what will happen to the position, the president’s commitment to these issues will of course continue but any transition of the office will be announced soon.”

A White House précis on the accomplishments of her office is titled, “The New Foundation for a Clean Energy Economy”: “Expanding Clean Energy to Historic Levels … Making Homes More Energy Efficient … Investing in Advanced Transportation Systems … Modernizing Our Electricity infrastructure … Cleaning up Coal … Expanding Appliance Efficiency Standards … Leading in Sustainability.”

On climate change: “International Leadership … Monitoring Emissions … Climate Change Science and Education … Climate Change Adaptation.”

From Browner’s official biography, released when Obama announced her appointment in December 2008: “Browner is Principal of The Albright Group LLC, where she provides strategic counsel in the critical areas of environmental protection, climate change, and energy conservation and security. Prior to her current position, she served as Administrator of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, a Cabinet-level position she held for eight years. Browner developed partnerships with business leaders, community advocates, and all levels of government.

“She is widely known for championing common sense, cost-effective solutions to pressing environmental and public health challenges. At EPA, she brought the climate change issue to the forefront and established climate change as an important environmental issue requiring action. Before EPA, Browner was Secretary of the State of Florida’s Department of Environmental Regulation. She also served as Legislative Director for then-United States Senator Al Gore.”

Unfortunately, the otherwise noteworthy resume of the entire Obama administration on energy and climate matters is likely to be irrevocably tainted by the catastrophically bad messaging on global warming  — which was mostly the fault of David Axelrod, I’m told, and the President himself, of course — and the death of the climate bill, for which there is plenty of blame to go around.

This post was created for  , a project of the Center for American Progress Action Fund    .  Joseph Romm is the editor of Climate Progress    and a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress.

Check out more on Celsias:

Clean Energy Jobs Soaring in California

America Must (Still) Be that Nation

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  • Posted on Jan. 25, 2011. Listed in:

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