Former Climate Czar Says Obama Shows ‘Real Commitment’ to Battling Climate Change

WASHINGTON, DC - NOVEMBER 30: Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change Carol Browner speaks during a forum on 'Natural Gas Hydraulic Fracturing on Public Lands' at the Department of Interior November 30, 2010 in Washington, DC. The forum, on the process in which rock is fractured to access gas wells, included government officials, representatives of the oil and gas industry and environmental advocates. 
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Clare Foran
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Clare Foran
Jan. 24, 2014, 7:30 a.m.

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 in a let­ter ob­tained by the Wash­ing­ton Post. 

“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.

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