Browner Resignation, Obama Omission Could Spell the End of Global Warming Policy, Say Climate Change Analysts

CNS      28 January 2011  by Matt Cover

The abrupt resignation of Carol Browner, President Barack Obama’s global warming czar, and the omission by Obama of global warming from his State of the Union speech on Tuesday could mean that the White House has given up on global warming, according to climate change analysts.

Browner, who announced her resignation Tuesday, led the White House effort to enact global warming legislation and policy. A former director of the Environmental Protection Agency during the Clinton administration, Browner was well regarded in the environmentalist community and served officially as director of the White House Office of Energy and Climate Change Policy.

In his State of the Union address on Tuesday, Obama left out any reference to global warming or the more ambiguously named climate change, seemingly abandoning what had been one of the most prominent policy areas of the past two years.

Browner’s signature legislative goal – cap and trade legislation – failed in Congress last year when it was not brought up for a vote in the Senate after narrowly passing in the House.

Most recently, Browner was rumored to be in the running to replace Rahm Emanuel as White House chief of staff. Instead of Browner, Obama chose former J.P Morgan Chase executive William Daley. proprietor Marc Morano told that Browner’s departure was likely a sign of frustration with Obama and the president’s lack of attention to her signature issues.

“She’s probably frustrated with Obama’s lack of commitment on this issue,” Morano said. “I think Carol Browner is frustrated because she realizes Obama is not the man she thought he was when it comes to global warming.” 

“Obama is terrified of the issue – it’s never been more than a check-box issue for him – so she was basically reduced to not doing that much of anything and she realized that nothing was going to happen,” he said.

Morano also said that Browner probably read the writing on the wall following the November election that swept a wave of conservative Republicans into Congress, effectively making any new environmental legislation all but impossible.

“I think she realizes that her hands may be tied,” Morano said. “She [probably] doesn’t feel like she can be as effective as she wants to. She is a hardcore, committed greenie [environmentalist].”

Morano said that Obama’s omission of global warming from his State of the Union indicated that he would be “running” away from the issue in 2012 because it has become politically unpopular.

“Browner doesn’t want to be in a position where she’s going to be open to a lot of shots especially with the new Republican House and not be able to do what she wants to do because Obama’s going to be focused on reelection and running terrified of the man-made global warming issue,” said Morano.

“The new political expediency is skepticism,” he said. “Man-made global warming is the new butt of jokes in Washington.”

Myron Ebell, director of Energy and Global Warming Policy at the free-market Competitive Enterprise Institute, said it was “hard to say” why Browner left, citing her rumored loss of the chief of staff position.

Ebell said that her departure and Obama’s omitting global warming from his speech may indicate that the administration was merely putting global warming policy on the back burner, preferring a stealthier approach.

“It may be that the White House decided, well, we’re off global warming and she’s the point person on global warming so she no longer has a role here,” he said.

“Remember that when Obama acknowledged this fall that cap and trade was not going to be enacted he said that – and this is pretty close to an exact quote – that there’s more than one way to skin that cat,” said Ebell. “And I think what they’re doing is they are adopting a lower-profile policy, a set of policies, to achieve the same goals without ever mentioning global warming or cap and trade or anything that will allow us to refer back to candidate Obama’s comment when he was senator [to the editorial board of the San Francisco Chronicle] that ‘under my cap and trade plan electric rates will necessarily skyrocket.’”

“They still want that, they just want to achieve it in a way that the public will have a much harder time seeing and therefore opposing,” said Ebell.