Carol Browner will leave the White House and her post as coordinator for energy and climate policy, a fitting end to the first two years of the Obama Administration and their failure to meet goals in this area.
Ms. Browner, a former administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency, was charged with directing the administration’s effort to enact comprehensive legislation to reduce emissions of climate-altering gases and moving the country away from a dependence on dirty-burning fossil fuels. That effort foundered in Congress last year, and Mr. Obama has acknowledged that no major climate change legislation is likely to pass in the next two years [...]
An aide to Ms. Browner said she was proud of her White House accomplishments, including helping to coordinate response to the BP oil spill and fashioning a deal under which automobile fuel efficiency will increase by nearly 25 percent over the next five years. The aide said Ms. Browner was also pleased that Mr. Obama’s State of the Union message would include a strong endorsement of the clean-energy policies she championed.
But she is leaving with her major goals unmet and the E.P.A. — where she served for eight years under President Bill Clinton — under siege by Republicans who believe it is strangling job creation by imposing costly new pollution rules.
Aside from everything else, the fact that this position is likely to go unfilled after Browner leaves does not exactly bode well for future fights with the Republican House over EPA regulations. Perhaps you don’t need a policy coordinator inside the White House to wage that battle, but as there seems to be no communications strategy whatsoever on the looming fight to basically shut down the EPA, having an additional hand in place wouldn’t hurt.
Instead, her position will simply be subsumed into the domestic policy portfolio of Melody Barnes (or perhaps the expanded portfolio of health care policy coordinator Nancy-Ann DeParle), and the Administration will hope, I guess, that the EPA will have the ability to carry out their aims. There certainly seems to be no urgency around the issue, hottest year on record or not.
Republicans control of the House made Browner’s position obsolete. I don’t think it’s totally fair to say that she failed – the dragged-out health care process pushed everything else to the side – but it’s clear she achieved almost none of her goals from when she came to the White House in 2009. Climate policy is completely adrift in America, as more toxins spew into the atmosphere and the planet continues to boil.