Carol Browner, President Barack Obama’s top adviser on energy and climate issues, is planning to leave the administration, a White House official said on the condition of anonymity.
The former head of the Environmental Protection Agency under President Bill Clinton was tapped by Obama two years ago to coordinate energy and climate policy in his administration. Her plan to step down was previously reported by Politico.
Browner, 55, helped to lead the White House’s unsuccessful effort to pass climate-change legislation through the Senate last year. The failure prompted the administration to move ahead with limits on greenhouse-gas emissions linked to climate change through the EPA. The regulations, which took effect Jan. 2, are opposed by industry groups, Republicans and some Democratic lawmakers who say the rules will hurt the economy.
“Carol Browner was a passionate contributor to a strong White House commitment to environmental policy,” Scott Segal, a lawyer in the Washington office of Bracewell & Giuliani LLP who lobbies for utilities such as Southern Co., said in a e-mailed statement. “Her departure may be part of a legitimate effort to pay careful attention to addressing some of the real regulatory obstacles in the way of job creation in the U.S.”
Segal has said that the administration’s greenhouse-gas rules and other environmental regulations put the economy at risk and amount to a “moratorium” on new power plant construction.
Environmental advocates have praised Browner’s role in crafting the first U.S. greenhouse-gas emission rules for vehicles and pushing to include a record $90 billion in clean- energy investments in $814 billion economic-stimulus package.
“Carol Browner led the Obama administration’s greatest clean energy successes, including the clean energy investments in the recovery program and the new auto standards that will save nearly 2 billion barrels of oil,” said Dan Weiss, director of climate strategy at the Washington-based Center for American Progress, a public policy group that advises Democrats. “She will be missed.”
Browner is the latest senior administration member to depart two years into Obama’s presidency. Earlier this month Obama named a new chief of staff, William Daley, and he has replaced his senior economic advisers and budget director.
White House press secretary Robert Gibbs has also said he will leave the administration in the coming weeks.
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