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Carol Browner

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Carol Browner
Carol Browner

Carol Browner (middle) speaking after Barack Obama announces her appointment as an advisor, 2008

Assistant to the President for
Energy and Climate Change
Taking office
January 20. 2009
President Barack Obama (elect)
Succeeding New creation

In office
1993 – 2001

Born December 16, 1955
Miami, Florida
Political party Democratic
Spouse Thomas Joseph Downey
Profession Lawyer

Carol M. Browner (born December 16, 1955) is slated to be Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change in the Obama Administration. Browner served as Administrator of the Environmental Protection Agency during the Clinton Administration in the United States. She was the longest-serving administrator in the history of the agency,[1] staying through both terms of the Clinton presidency.


[edit] Early life and education

Born in Miami, Florida,[2] Browner is the daughter of Isabella Harty-Hugues and Michael Browner, both of whom were professors at Miami Dade Community College, in social science and English respectively.[3] She has two younger sisters.[3] Browner grew up in South Miami,[3] and her hiking in the nearby Everglades – only a bicycle ride away from her house[4] – gave her a close connection to the natural world:[3][5] "I was very shaped by growing up in that kind of environment where nature was right there."[6]

Browner received her B.A. degree from the University of Florida in 1977, majoring in English.[7][5] She then graduated from the University of Florida College of Law with a J.D. degree in 1979.[8]

[edit] Early career

In 1980 and 1981, she worked as General Counsel for the Florida House of Representatives Committee on Government Operations. In 1983, she moved to Washington, D.C. and worked as associate director for the Citizen Action in Washington, a grassroots lobbying organization (founded by Ralph Nader) that was active in environmental issues.[7][4]

Between 1986 and 1988, she served as chief legislative assistant to Senator Lawton Chiles from Florida.[2] There she worked on a negotiation to expand Florida's Big Cypress National Preserve,[4] as well as a ban on offshore drilling near the Florida Keys.[9] During 1989 she served as a legal counsel for the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.[9] She was not adverse to in-field investigation, once diving in coastal waters to do research while pregnant.[4]

Then she worked as Legislative Director for Senator Al Gore from 1988 to 1991,[2] and became known as a Gore protegé.[10][11] In this role she helped prepare amendments to the Clean Air Act.[9]

As Secretary of Environmental Regulation,[3] Browner headed the Florida Department of Environmental Protection from 1991 to 1993.[2] It was the nation's third-largest such state agency, with 1,500 employees and a budget of some $650 million.[10] There she believed that economic development and environmental protection did not have to be in conflict with each other.[3] She revitalized a demoralized department and turned it into one of the most active in Florida's government.[3] She shortened the amount of time it took the department to review development permits for wetlands-affected areas and for manufacturing plants; in doing so, she annoyed some environmentalists who thought that the streamlined procedures diminished public review.[3] She pushed for the halting of construction of new hazardous waste plants and municipal waste incinerators, on the grounds that health and environment consequences were insufficiently known.[10] She brokered a deal with Walt Disney World that would allow them to build on wetlands they owned in exchange for $40 million worth of restoration work by Disney to endangered wetlands nearby.[9] She pleased environmentalists by persuading now-Governor Chiles to negotiate a settlement to a federal lawsuit regarding damage to Everglades National Park and forcing the Florida sugar industry to bear much of the $1 billion cost.[3] The head of Florida's largest business trade association described dealing with Browner thusly: "She kicks the door open, throws in a hand grenade, and then walks in to shoot who's left. She really doesn't like to compromise. [But she] has done a pretty good job down here. People have more complaints with the way she does it than what she does."[12]

[edit] EPA Administrator

After the 1992 presidential election, Browner served as transition director for Vice President-elect Gore.[13] President-elect Bill Clinton announced her as his choice for Environmental Protection Agency head on December 11, 1992.[10] She was confirmed by the Senate without incident on January 21, 1993.[14] The selection of Browner, who was described by The Washington Post as having "the mind and training of an attorney-legislator but the soul of an activist," was seen as an indication that Gore's ardent environmentalism had won out over Clinton's more pro-business mindset.[12]

Carol Browner, c. 1996

When Republicans took control of Congress after the 1994 elections, she took the lead for the Clinton Administration in successfully fighting efforts by the Republicans, especially in the House of Representatives, to amend the Clean Water Act. She was able to work in a bipartisan manner, though, with Congressional Republicans in helping craft amendments to the Safe Drinking Water Act and the Food Quality Protection Act.

Browner came from Florida with a reputation as someone who could work with the private sector. While at EPA, she expanded the Agency's flexible public-private partnerships as alternatives to traditional regulation through Project XL (designed to find common sense, cost effective solutions to environmental issues at individual facilities) and the Common Sense Initiative (targeted at efforts involving entire industry sectors).

In 1995, Browner and the EPA were charged by the House Government Reform and Oversight Subcommittee on Regulatory Affairs with violating the federal Anti-Lobbying Act (18 U.S. Code § 1913) by faxing unsolicited material opposing the Republican-sponsored regulatory reform package to various corporations and public-interest groups.[15]

As EPA Administrator, Browner started the Agency's successful brownfields program. The program helped facilitate cleanups of contaminated facilities, especially in urban areas, and leveraged more than $1 billion in public and private funds for cleanups. She pushed through stringent air quality rules despite cost concerns within the administration and strong objections from some industry groups.[11] The National Ambient Air Quality Standards was crucial environmental legislation for the Clinton administration. With Gore as her most important ally, the legislation survived both Congressional debate and court reviews.[11] Browner began efforts to deal with global warming, giving the EPA authority to regulate carbon emissions causing climate change, although the EPA under the George W. Bush administration chose not to use that authority.[11]

During her EPA tenure, Browner became unpopular with a number of industry groups as well as with conservatives in Congress.[11]

[edit] Business career

Browner testifying before Congress in 2007

After the Clinton Administration, Browner became a founding member of the Albright Group, a "global strategy group" headed by former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.[16] As a Principal in that firm, Browner assists businesses and other organizations with the challenges of operating internationally, including the challenges of complying with environmental regulations and climate change. Coca-Cola and Merck have been among the clients for such international assistance.[11] She also became a founding member and principal of Albright Capital Management, an investment advisory company.[16][2]

Browner is currently the chair of the Audubon Society; her term expires in 2008.[17] She also joined the board of the Alliance for Climate Protection, an organization founded by Gore in 2006.[16] In 2008 she joined the board of APX, Inc., which specialzes in environmental commodities markets.[18] She is also on the boards of the Center for American Progress and the League of Conservation Voters.[18] She is also one of the 14 leaders of a socialist group's Commission for a Sustainable World Society, which calls for "global governance" and says rich countries must shrink their economies to address climate change.

[edit] Political opinions

Browner declared the George W. Bush administration "the worst environmental administration ever."[8] She has said that global warming is “the greatest challenge ever faced”.[11] During the 2008 presidential election, Browner was a strong supporter of Hillary Rodham Clinton's bid for the Democratic nomination.[8] After that failed, she campaigned for Barack Obama in several battleground states and in League of Conservation Voters events.[8]

[edit] Socialist International

Until January 2009, she was listed as one of fourteen leaders of Socialist International. The group calls for rich countries to shrink their economies in order to combat climate change. However, her name was removed from organization's website after Barack Obama appointed her to be his coordinator of energy and climate policy. [19]

[edit] Presidential advisor nomination

On November 5th, 2008, Browner was named to the advisory board of the Obama-Biden Transition Project.[20] On December 15, 2008, President-elect Barack Obama officially nominated Browner to the position of Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change,[21] and she will act as a so-called "climate czar" and coordinate environmental, energy, climate, transport and related matters for the federal government.[1]

Browner's deputy assistant will be Heather Zichal, a former legislative director for Senator John Kerry[22].

[edit] Personal life

Browner married Michael Podhorzer, a specialist in health-care issues at Citizen Action,[3] in the 1980s.[7] They have a son, Zachary, born 1987.[7][3]

Browner is now married to former Congressman Thomas Joseph Downey. The marriage, his second, her third,[23] took place on June 21, 2007 in Riverhead, New York.[16] Downey heads a lobbying firm that includes clients involved in energy policy.[5] In 2006 she and Downey collaborated on behalf of Dubai Ports World, but were unable to convince Senator Charles Schumer to their view during the Dubai Ports World controversy.[24]

[edit] Awards and honors

In April 1997, Browner received the Outstanding Mother of the Year Award from the National Mother's Day Committee in relation to presenting America's children with a safer, healthier world.[5][25] Browner also has received Glamour magazine's Woman of the Year Award, the South Florida Chapter of the Audubon Society's Guy M. Bradley Lifetime Achievement Award, and the Lifetime Environmental Achievement Award from the New York State Bar Association.[7]

[edit] See also

[edit] References

  1. ^ a b Camen, Al "Browner to Take White House Energy and Environment Job" The Washington Post, December 9, 2008
  2. ^ a b c d e "Biographical Information on Carol Browner", Associated Press for The New York Times (December 15, 2008). 
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k Schenider, Keith (December 17, 1992). "New Breed of Ecologist to Lead E.P.A.", The New York Times. 
  4. ^ a b c d Moritz, Charles (ed.) (1994). Current Biography Yearbook 1994. New York: H. W. Wilson Company.  p. 76.
  5. ^ a b c d Romero, Frances. "Energy Czar: Carol Browner". Time. Retrieved on December 16, 2008.
  6. ^ Grier, Peter (1993-04-01). "[Interview]", The Christian Science Monitor. 
  7. ^ a b c d e "Carol M. Browner: Biography". Environmental Protection Agency Office of Media Relations (February 1999). Retrieved on December 16, 2008..
  8. ^ a b c d Wald, Matthew L. (November 29, 2008.). "Obama's Inner Circle, Members and Maybes: Carol M. Browner", The New York Times. 
  9. ^ a b c d Current Biography Yearbook 1994, p. 77.
  10. ^ a b c d Ifill, Gwen (December 12, 1992). "Clinton Widens His Circle, Naming 4 Social Activists", The New York Times. 
  11. ^ a b c d e f g Broder, John M. (December 11, 2008). "Title, but Unclear Power, for a New Climate Czar", The New York Times. 
  12. ^ a b Kenworthy, Tom (1992-12-12). "Activist Ex-Aide to Gore Tapped to Direct EPA", The Washington Post. 
  13. ^ "The Transition: President-Elect's Choices", The New York Times (1992-11-13). 
  14. ^ Greenhouse, Steven (January 22, 1993). "14 Major Clinton Nominees Are Confirmed by Senate", The New York Times. 
  15. ^ Price, Joyce. "EPA broke law, panel charges: Bipartisan letter cites 'prohibited grass-roots lobbying'." The Washington Times. March 22, 1995. Page A3. Accessed September 17, 2008 via the Legacy Tobacco Documents Library at the University of California, San Francisco.
  16. ^ a b c d "Carol Browner and Thomas Downey", The New York Times (June 24, 2007). 
  17. ^ "Board of Directors" Audubon Society Retrieved June 15, 2007.
  18. ^ a b Business Wire (March 10, 2008). Carol Browner Joins APX's Board of Directors. Press release. 
  19. ^ Obama climate czar has socialist ties, The Washington Times, January 12, 2009
  20. ^ Sweet, Lynn Jarrett, Podesta, Rouse to lead Obama transition; Bill Daley co-chair Chicago Sun-Times, November 5, 2008
  21. ^ Obama-Biden Transition Team (2008). The energy and environment team. Retrieved December 16, 2008.
  22. ^
  23. ^ J. Jioni Palmer (January 8, 2007). "Downey, Browner to Marry", Newsday. 
  24. ^ Brad Haynes and T.W. Farnum (December 11, 2008). "Browner's Husband Lobbied on Energy Issues", The Wall Street Journal. 
  25. ^ Environmental Protection Agency (April 16, 1997). NTC Administrator Browner to Receive Outstanding Mother of the Year Award. Press release.!OpenDocument. 

[edit] External links

Government offices
Preceded by
William K. Reilly
Administrator of the EPA
Succeeded by
Christine Todd Whitman