- Was named Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change by Barack Obama in 2009
- Former Legislative Director for Senator Al Gore
- Former head the Environmental Protection Agency under President Bill Clinton
- Served as a “commissioner” of the Socialist International
- Has said that global warming is “the greatest challenge ever faced” by the human race
See also: Citizen Action Al Gore Bill Clinton
Center for American Progress Barack Obama
Alliance for Climate Protection Democratic Party
League of Conservation Voters
Carol Martha Browner was born on December 16, 1955 in Miami, Florida. In 1977 she received a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Florida, and two years later she earned a J.D. from the University of Florida College of Law.
In 1980-81, Browner served as general counsel for the Florida House of Representatives Committee on Government Operations. In 1983 she became associate director of Citizen Action in Washington, D.C.
From 1986-88, Browner was chief legislative assistant to Democratic Senator Lawton Chiles, a position in which she worked to ban offshore oil-drilling near the Florida Keys. From 1988-91, she served as legislative director for Senator Al Gore. And from 1991-93, she was Florida’s Secretary of Environmental Regulation.
After the 1992 presidential election, Browner served as transition director for Vice President-elect Gore. In December 1992, President-elect Bill Clinton named Browner to head the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), a post she went on to hold until 2001, making her the longest-serving administrator in the agency’s history.
Exploiting her position at the EPA, Browner in 1995 illegally used taxpayer funds to disseminate lobbying materials to more than 100 grassroots environmental organizations, urging them to oppose Republican efforts to bring about regulatory reforms. In a rare show of political unity, Republicans and Democrats alike impugned Browner, accusing her of violating the Anti-Lobbying Act. A stinging letter to Browner from a bipartisan subcommittee of the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee stated: “The concerted EPA actions appear to fit the definition of prohibited grass-roots lobbying ... The prima facie case is strong that some EPA officials may have violated the criminal law.”
According to Manhattan Institute scholar Max Schulz, Browner in 2000 “was the driving force behind the federal government's effort to force General Electric Co. to spend $490 million to dredge New York's Hudson River to rid it of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) that -- because they were buried under layers of silt – posed no environmental harm.” Some of Browner's employees ultimately faced criminal charges for falsifying evidence and tampering with lab results.
In an effort to evade a lawsuit demanding that she publicly disclose the names of all special-interest groups that might have influenced some regulatory measures which she had recently enacted, Browner, on her final day as EPA chief in 2001, ordered a computer technician to delete all of her computer files -- in direct violation of a federal judge's order requiring the agency to preserve those files. When she was subsequently questioned about her actions, Browner claimed that it had all been an innocent mistake, and that she had merely intended to purge the hard drive of such innocuous items as computer games -- as a “courtesy” to incoming staffers of the Bush administration. It was later learned that three additional high-ranking EPA officials had also violated the court order and erased their hard drives -- prompting U.S. District Judge Royce Lamberth to hold the EPA in contempt of court. “In 2003,” reports political analyst Michelle Malkin, “the agency was held in contempt and fined more than $300,000 in connection with another email destruction incident under Browner's watch.”
Following her tenure at the EPA, Browner in 2001 co-founded the Albright Group, a “global strategy” organization headed by former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright.
From 2001-08, Browner served as chair of the National Audubon Society's board of directors. Also during the first decade of the 21st century, she was a board member of the Alliance for Climate Protection, the Center for American Progress, the League of Conservation Voters, and APX, Inc.
In 2006, Browner and her husband, Tom Downey, lobbied on behalf of Dubai Ports World, a United Arab Emirate-owned company which sought to take operational control of six major U.S. ports. Browner and Downey met with New York Senator Charles Schumer in an effort to minimize congressional opposition to the deal, but it ultimately fell apart.
During the 2008 presidential primaries, Browner avidly supported Hillary Clinton's bid for the Democratic Party's nomination. After Clinton was defeated in the primaries by Barack Obama, Browner campaigned for Obama in several battleground states and at League of Conservation Voters events.
In the summer of 2008, Browner traveled to Athens, Greece to attend the 23rd Congress of the Socialist International (SI), an umbrella group for 170 “social democratic, socialist and labor parties” in 55 countries. At that time, she was also one of 14 leaders of SI's Commission for a Sustainable World Society, which contends that “the developed world must reduce consumption and commit to binding and punitive limits on greenhouse-gas emissions.” Browner herself has long maintained that the greenhouse-gas emissions associated with human industrial activity are major contributors to potentially catastrophic global warming, which she characterizes as “the greatest challenge ever faced” by humanity. Thus she proudly describes herself as a “strong backer” of “utility decoupling” policies that require utility companies to cut back on the energy they provide to the public, while the government guarantees the companies steady or increased profits through “taxpayer subsidies.”
On January 22, 2009, President Obama named Browner as his choice for the post of Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change, popularly known as “Climate Czar.” Shortly after joining the Obama administration, Browner – citing the need to place a “cap on the pollutants that cause global warming” – aggressively promoted the “cap-and-trade” legislation that was eventually passed in the House of Representatives. “By February 2009,” writes Michelle Malkin, “[Browner] had already announced radical plans to declare carbon-dioxide emissions a danger to the public -- a move that could potentially subject … schools, hospitals, and any other emitters of carbon dioxide to costly new regulations and litigation.” Browner also helped negotiate a deal requiring automakers to increase the fuel-efficiency standards of their vehicles. According to Malkin, “Browner reportedly threatened auto execs in July  by telling them to 'put nothing in writing … ever' about their negotiations with her.”
Following the disastrous BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in early 2010, the White House commissioned Interior Secretary Kenneth Salazar, aided by a panel of outside advisers, to issue a safety report as well as recommendations vis-a-vis the advisability of future offshore oil drilling. The final Salazar draft was sent directly to Browner's office, where her staff promptly edited the document to imply, falsely, that Salazar's advisers had recommended a moratorium on drilling. The newly doctored draft was then sent to President Obama, who subsequently announced that he was imposing such a moratorium.
In January 2011, Browner announced that she would be stepping down from her post as “Climate Czar.” Following her departure, the Office of Energy and Climate Change Policy was subsumed into the Domestic Policy Council.
In 2014, Browner was named chair of the League of Conservation Voters. In 2016 she served on the Democratic Party's Platform Drafting Committee along with such notables as Paul Booth, Elijah Cummings, Keith Ellison, Luis Gutierrez, Barbara Lee, Bill McKibben, Cornel West, and James Zogby.
For additional information on Carol Browner, click here.