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Carol Browner: Environmental Regulations Create Market Opportunities

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"Carol Browner: Environmental Regulations Create Market Opportunities"

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The Washington Post’s Al Kamen has the scoop that Carol Browner, the Clinton administration’s Environmental Protection Agency Administrator, has been tapped for a new position “as head of environmental, energy, climate and related matters” in President-elect Barack Obama’s White House. She may be heading a new National Energy Council, recommended in the the Center for American Progress Action Fund’s Change For America blueprint for the new administration, to drive “both policy and strategic options with respect to energy and climate change.”

On December 1, CAPAF hosted Browner, New York Times columnist Tom Friedman, and Gov. Ed Rendell (D-PA) for a lively discussion on the future of energy and environmental policy. In the question-and-answer period, Browner explained her view that government can spur economic growth by raising standards:

As a former regulator — and I can cite you any number of stories — when the government steps up and says there’s a requirement, that we’re going to have to take sulfur out of diesel fuel, you’re going to have to get rid of CFCs (chlorofluorocarbons) by a date certain, what the government is doing is creating a market opportunity.

American innovation and American ingenuity time and time again has risen to that challenge, and inevitably more quickly and at less cost than was anticipated.

And so, while the governor has been talking very importantly about how we need to make investments, those investments, when they are partnered with a government requirement — a regulation that we’re going to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, that we’re going to reduce this climate pollutant — the upside is phenomenal, more than we can possibly imagine in this room.

Watch it:

Browner, 52, has continued her leadership on energy and the environment since leaving the EPA. A principal at the Albright Group consulting firm and chair of the National Audubon Society, Browner is a director at the Center for American Progress, Al Gore’s Alliance for Climate Protection, and the National Brownfields Association. She is a top adviser on Obama’s transition team, overseeing energy policy and meeting with environmental leaders.

Browner’s view that higher standards build economic growth has proven to be true. A study of California’s green economy found that its “energy-efficiency policies created nearly 1.5 million jobs from 1977 to 2007″ and grew the economy by $45 billion without any growth in per-capita electricity use. Writing in favor of strong global warming standards, Hank Ryan, chair of the California Small Business Association, explains that energy regulations have given “California small businesses a competitive edge over their counterparts in other states because while they’re wasting money on inefficiency, we’re spending it on employees, building a better product, advertising, and capital improvements.”

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