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The Rule of the Green Czar By: Kathy Shaidle
FrontPageMagazine.com | Friday, January 16, 2009


Carol Browner, Barack Obama’s nominee for energy-environment “czar,” didn’t preside over the pardons of terrorists in the 1990s; she doesn’t owe thousands in back taxes; and she isn’t mired in an ongoing investigation. She is, however, a card-carrying socialist who used public office for political pressure and was accused of presiding over a department that treated intelligent African-Americans as “uppity.”

Until recently, Browner, whose official title will be “Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change,” was a “commissioner” of the Socialist International, the umbrella group for 170 “social democratic, socialist and labor parties” in 55 countries Specifically, she worked with the Commission for a Sustainable World Society. In the grand Soviet tradition of the “disappearing Commissar,” her biographical profile was deleted from the Socialist International’s website shortly after her appointment, but not before critics had a chance to scrutinize the group’s extreme, anti-capitalist agenda.

“Socialist International is precisely what it sounds like,” Steven Milloy explained on FoxNews.com. Milloy noted that the group “favors the nationalization of industry, is skeptical of the benefits of economic growth and wants to establish a more ‘equitable international economic order.’” The last phrase is inevitably a codeword for redistribution of wealth on a global scale. (See William R. Hawkins' related piece, “Obama's Environmental Agenda: Made in China.”) Thus, the Socialist International’s “organizing document” blames capitalism for “devastating crises and mass unemployment” alongside “imperialist expansion and colonial exploitation.” Similarly, Socialist International’s Commission for a Sustainable World Society, the organization’s action arm on climate change Browner worked on, “says the developed world must reduce consumption and commit to binding and punitive limits on greenhouse gas emissions.”

What makes Browner’s association with the Socialist International noteworthy is that, after the worldwide failure of socialism, she continues to share many of its anti-capitalist views – and if confirmed as climate czar, she promises to translate them into policy. For example, Browner, calls herself a “strong backer” of “utility decoupling.” Under “decoupling” schemes, utility companies will be required to provide less energy, while the government guarantees the companies steady or increased profits through “taxpayer subsidies” and “voluntary” conservation measures. In other words, taxpayers will be given grim Carter-era exhortations to put on sweaters rather than turn up the thermostat and be forced to pick up the tab for utility companies’ reduced earnings, while getting less energy in return.

Browner’s penchant for such dubious environmentalist schemes is just one troubling aspect of her nomination. Another is her history of abusing her office for political gain and a record on minority rights that can rightly be called troubling.

In 1995, Browner used her position at the EPA to lobby environmental groups to oppose the Republican-led Congress, faxing out documents opposing the GOP’s regulatory initiatives. In a rare show of political unity, Browner was condemned by Republicans and Democrats, who accused her of violating the Anti-Lobbying Act. A stinging letter to Browner from a bipartisan subcommittee of the House Government Reform and Oversight Committee noted, “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.”

This was not the only time that Browner was accused of abusing her authority. According to a February 2001 report in Time magazine, the EPA was plagued with “festering racial problems” during Browner’s time in charge. One African-American EPA employee, Dr. Marsha Coleman-Adebayo, told Time that she’d been passed over for promotions for being “too uppity,” adding, "We [African-American employees] were treated like Negroes, to use a polite term. We were put in our place.” Coleman-Adebayo was later awarded $600,000 in damages in a settlement that found the EPA guilty of “discrimination and retaliation against whistleblowers.” Shortly thereafter, Congress passed the “No Fear” government whistleblower protection act in response to the Coleman-Adebayo v. Carol Browner decision. Dr. Coleman-Adebayo lamented in a recent interview, “The very woman I prevailed against in court is being elevated to a White House decision-level position.”

At least 150 EPA employees filed similar lawsuits during Browner’s time there. In one particularly bizarre incident, blogger Shawn Mallow notes, “Anita Nickens, an EPA specialist, and the only black present during a visit of Mrs. Browner, was told to clean the toilet prior to her arrival. Afterward, the rest of her white co-workers bragged about it.”

This lawsuit didn’t come up during Browner’s January 15 interview with Lois Romano of the The Washington Post. Instead, Browner joked with her interrogator about being a “czarina,” and bemoaned the fact that the list of Bush initiatives she plans “to roll back” is “unfortunately...rather long.”

Ultimately, it is Browner’s radical Green politics – of which her affiliation with the Socialist International is but one manifestation – that are the most troubling. Although Browner insists “we don’t have to choose between strong public health, environmental protections and a strong economy,” economists disagree. As the country reels from an economic recession, her policies may be just radical enough to snatch recession from the jaws of recovery.


Kathy Shaidle blogs at FiveFeetOfFury.com. Her new book exposing abuses by Canada’s Human Rights Commissions, The Tyranny of Nice, includes an introduction by Mark Steyn.


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