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Carol Browner, the Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change -- i.e., the administration's top climate post -- is stepping down. Speculation had long swirled that she was going to give up the job, but beltway rumor had it that she was moving to another in the administration. Alas, 'twas not to be. Browner is jumping ship -- and even worse, it looks like her position may remain unfilled. If that's the case, it would seem our government is doing its damnedest to scrub any mention of 'climate change' from its offices. Remember, the GOP just dismantled the Energy Independence and Global Warming committee in the House of Reps, and chances are, Obama won't deign to utter the word climate change during his State of the Union address. Nearly half of the new Congressmen now working on the Hill don't believe in climate change. Needless to say, these are going to be tough times indeed for anyone hopeful for good climate policy.
Which may be why Browner left -- and after the colossal failure of the climate bill last year, the travails of the BP spill (the end result of which ended up being opening up more waters for drilling), and facing the prospect of a new Congress that is not only adamantly opposed to climate policy, but may actually seek to prosecute climate scientists, it's hard to blame her.
Her calm, authoritative television presence during the BP oil disaster made her one of the few officials whose stature was enhanced in the aftermath of the Gulf catastrophe. But passage of a comprehensive energy bill, the chief goal of her office, seems unlikely under the House Republican majority.Browner was the head of the EPA during the eight years of the Clinton administration. We'll have to wait and see if someone is appointed to fill her shoes -- lest we continue to slide towards a government that doesn't even officially acknowledge the existence of climate change. Thank goodness for Steven Chu, I suppose.
Her departure comes as the West Wing undergoes a heavy makeover, including the arrival of Chief of Staff William Daley, a rare outsider in the top echelons of this administration.