Carol Browner, President Clinton's Administrator of the Environmental
Protection Agency, is the former secretary for Florida's Department
of Environmental Regulation (1988-1991), former legislative director
to Albert Gore during his stint in the Senate ( 1988-1991), and
former chief legislative aide on environmental issues to Senator
Lawton Chiles before Chiles left the Senate to run for governor
of Florida. In addition, Browner, an attorney by training, has
served as general counsel for the Florida House of Representative's
Government Operations Committee and has worked for Ralph Nader's
Citizen Action. While working for Albert Gore, Browner reportedly
did much of the research for Gore's book, Earth in the Balance.
At the EPA, Carol Browner has tried to portray herself as a member of the reasonable center. She argued at her confirmation hearings in 1993, for example, that environmental protection and economic growth need not be in conflict. She also said that the "EPA should promote and encourage rewards for businesses that take the lead in developing pollution prevention and recycling strategies," rather than depend exclusively on "command and control" coercion. So convincing was Browner's performance at the hearing that Senator John H. Chafee (R-RI) was prompted to admonish her, "Please avoid the word balance. It always makes me nervous... It suggests that the scales have tipped too far in favor of the environment." He needn't have worried: Under Administrator Browner, the EPA has been particularly active in opposing legislation that offers greater regulatory flexibility. During congressional debate over the regulatory reform measures included in the Job Creation and Wage Enhancement Act (H.R. 9) in early 1995, for example, the EPA faxed out materials opposing the measure to a select list of environmental organizations -- presumably, to assist the groups in their grassroots campaigns against H.R. 9. The activity lead a bi-partisan group of Congressmen, led by Representatives David McIntosh (R-IN) and Collin Peterson (D-MN), to charge that the EPA was in violation of a 1919 law barring lobbying by federal officials. This was not the only complaint about EPA political activity: In mid-1995, Louisiana Representative Billy Tauzin -- then a Democrat -- charged that the EPA violated the law by providing confidential information about pending wetlands litigation to environmental groups.
Administrator Browner does apparently believe in compromising on the environment in certain cases -- at least when it suits her own purposes. During her earlier stint in Washington, Browner lived with her family in Takoma Park, Maryland, a city known for its stringent environmental regulations. According to one press report, Browner applied for a permit to cut down a 120-foot-tall oak tree in order to widen her driveway. Although Browner's neighbors objected to the tree being cut down, her permit was granted after she met twice with city officials.
Selected Browner Quotes
Browner on why states should be given greater authority in regulatory process...
"The quality of the decisions that come from the states is better than the decisions we can make." - Carol Browner quoted in the Scientific American, May 1994
Browner on why states can't be trusted with greater authority...
"Imagine turning on your tap in the morning and not knowing whether the water is safe enough for your children to brush their teeth. Or watching raw sewage being dumped into the lake in which your family loves to swim and fish... In the past 20 to 30 years, we reached what I believe is a sensible consensus, one that recognizes the strengths of each level of government. In general, it is the federal government that sets the standards designed to protect the health of the public and our air, land and water... This administration believes passionately that the federal government must provide the leadership necessary to guarantee public health and natural resource protection for all Americans." - Carol Browner in her opinion/editorial, "Partners in Protecting the Public, The Washington Post, May 30, 1994
Browner on ending the adversarial relationship between the EPA and the business community...
"I hope my tenure will mark a new era in communication between the EPA and America's business community, between environmentalists and business leaders... [the] adversarial relationship [between environmental and business communities] creates damaging delays in the regulatory process and often unnecessarily harms business without significantly aiding the environment." - Carol Browner quoted in The Washington Post, January 12, 1993
Browner fomenting an adversarial relationship with the business community with her harsh rhetoric...
"...Proposals [to end retroactive liability at hazardous waste sites] are a fix for wealthy special interests. They abandon the principle that the polluter must pay for the mess they make." - Carol Browner quoted in the Washington Post, July 8, 1995
Version Date: February 21, 1996
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