ASG Senior Counselor Carol Browner comments on Obama's climate change strategy
By Clare Foran
Former White House climate czar Carol Browner defended the Obama administration on Friday amid criticism from environmentalists who say the president could be doing more to combat climate change.
"We all recognize that there's a transition that has to take place on the energy that we're using today to the energy we need to use over the long term," Browner said during a call with reporters hosted by the Center for American Progress, a left-leaning think tank. "I think the real question is, is the president committed to this transition, and what we're seeing is a real commitment to get the standards in place that will allow us to transition away from the fuels that lead to climate change."
Browner was responding to comments from the heads of 18 major environmental advocacy organizations, including the Natural Resources Defense Council, the Sierra Club, and the League of Conservation Voters, in a letter to the president earlier this month. The letter argued that the president's "all of the above" energy strategy, which promotes both fossil fuels and clean energy, conflicts with his efforts to rein in greenhouse-gas emissions.
"An 'all of the above' approach that places virtually no limits on whether, when, where or how fossil fuels are extracted, ignores the impacts of carbon-intense fuels and is wrong for America's future," the letter stated.
Browner, who served as Environmental Protection Agency administrator in the Clinton administration and was the director of the White House Office of Energy and Climate Change Policy in the Obama White House until 2011, is not the administration's only defender.
Last week, John Podesta, who was recently named special adviser to the president on energy and environment issues, shot back at the charges leveled against the administration by environmental advocates.
"The president has been leading the transition to low-carbon energy sources and understands the need to consider a balanced approach to all forms of energy development, including oil and gas production," Podesta wrote in response to the letter
Fuel Fix: Obama supporters defend go-slow approach on refiners
by Jennifer A. Dlouhy - January 24, 2014
WASHINGTON — Obama administration supporters are defending the White House’s decision to move on a slower track to limit refiners’ greenhouse gas emissions, while focusing on reining in the carbon dioxide coming from the nation’s power plants.
Environmentalists have been pushing President Barack Obama to be more aggressive in combatting climate change, with 18 groups last week criticizing his all-of-the-above energy policy as undermining those efforts.
And last week, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse, D-R.I., pressed Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Gina McCarthy to begin zeroing in on carbon dioxide emissions from refiners, industrial ovens and commercial boilers.
The agency has been obligated to tackle carbon pollution from power plants and refineries since a December 2010 settlement with conservationists. But, so far, the EPA has been focusing its attention on greenhouse gas emissions from power plants, which represent a third of U.S. emissions overall and about 60 percent of the those tied to stationary sources.
The White House’s former top energy and climate adviser insisted Friday that’s the right approach.
“After making a determination that carbon dioxide is a dangerous air pollutant that needs to be regulated,” it makes sense that the EPA would tackle the biggest source first.
“At this point, they’re doing everything to make sure they get the right requirements in place, that they work with states and they work with industry to get the right requirements in place on power plants,” said Carol Browner, now a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress. “That’s what they should be doing.”
But Browner hinted that refiners’ time will come.
It “would make logical sense” for EPA to move to refineries, the next-largest stationary source of carbon dioxide emissions, after addressing power plants, Browner said.
Gene Karpinski, head of the League of Conservation Voters, acknowledged that the EPA has a role to play addressing carbon emissions from refineries. But it’s a matter of “sequencing,” while EPA focuses on power plants.
Karpinski stressed that given the urgency around climate change, “none of us are satisfied with the pace we are addressing this climate challenge.”
“We all agree we need to do more quicker,” he said.
But Karpinski added that he was heartened by the EPA’s “ambitious schedule” for tackling greenhouse gas emissions from power plants — easily the single biggest part of the climate action plan Obama unveiled last June.