Podesta Cautions Industry: Obama ˜Intends To Fulfill His ˜Promise Of Energy Transformation

National Journal: Carol BrownerPresident Obama has been crystal clear that jumpstarting the clean energy transition is one of his top two priorities — and inseparable from his commitment to jumpstarting the economy as a whole (see Obama asserts “no single issue is as fundamental to our future as energy”).

Further underscoring his commitment is his amazing energy team, which includes Carol Browner, his climate and energy adviser. In a cover story on Browner, National Journal (subs. req’d) quotes former transition chief and current Center for American Progress president John Podesta explaining why her selection reflects Obama’s plan to change business-as-usual in Washington:

If people want to continue in practices that were more appropriate in the 1950s than today, then I think that they’re going to have to understand that Obama campaigned on a promise of energy transformation. And he intends to fulfill it.

WonkRoom has a good post on the article:

Obama’s ambitious campaign goals include five million green-collar jobs, “the implementation of an economy-wide cap-and-trade system to reduce carbon emissions by the amount scientists say is necessary,” and a “whole new electricity grid.” With less than two weeks in office, his administration has already made major commitments toward the creation of a smart grid and the green collar jobs in the economic recovery package. The focus of the first meeting of Vice President Joe Biden’s middle-class task force will be green jobs. And Obama has signed directives to the EPA to begin the process of complying with the Supreme Court mandate to regulate greenhouse gases — hopefully spurring Congressional action to develop a cap and trade system.

Just as critically, Obama has already put in place a powerful team with the likes of Browner, EPA administrator Lisa Jackson, Council of Environmental Quality head Nancy Sutley, and top scientists Secretary of Energy Steven Chu, NOAA Director Jane Lubchenco, and White House science adviser John Holdren. These experts on climate policy will have to work with the other members of Obama’s Cabinet to achieve that “promise of energy transformation.”

And that’s where Browner comes in. One “industry lobbyist” who is wary of Browner described her in ways that make her sound remarkably like Dick Cheney, who controlled energy policy across agency lines in the previous administration:

“Browner is the epitome of how to work this city. She knows every organization. She knows who to leak information to. She knows how to kill information, and she knows that she doesn’t want a paper trail. That is frightening.”

It remains to be seen how Browner will operate, but time will tell if anonymous industry lobbyists’ fears are more accurate than Obama’s promises of transparency, accountability, and change. What the lobbyists more likely fear is that environmental policy will become effective and science-based. As Podesta explained, Carol Browner will fill a crucial role in the Obama administration:

“When you have problems that really cut across a swath of agencies, it’s very important to have a strong central place within the White House where people can work on the same strategy and [make sure] that actions are keyed up and accountability exists. That has proven to be an effective way of doing business in the federal government on security policy, on economic policy. And now we’ll see it on environmental policy.”

7 Responses to Podesta Cautions Industry: Obama ˜Intends To Fulfill His ˜Promise Of Energy Transformation

  1. May you live in interesting times! Only this time, it doesn’t seem like a curse.*


    * I’ve been told that the Chinese actually don’t have this phrase as a curse, that it’s a literary invention (if any one here knows the truth).

  2. Roger says:

    More than anything, we need Obama to go on national, prime-time TV to fill a bit of the huge gap that exists between what the people reading this fantastic site know, and what the people watching TV know. Only Obama has the voice of authority that needs to be heard by the 80% of our U.S. population that still thinks there’s a controversy between two valid camps.
    In less than the time it takes to explain the conversion to digital TV, we could have some 40 million families ready to help save themselves. No?

  3. Richard, it’s a Gypsy curse, not from China. It was and is a curse to almost everybody. Times can be too interesting, meaning too unpredictable to survive. Some people prefer excitement.

    The problem is: How much time will they have to waste on wind and solar before the message gets through that nuclear has to be most of it? I expect that the real truth will come out in the second Obama term. The good news is: Factory built small nuclear power plants are here to replace fossil fuel power plants.

    Hyperion Power Generation has already sold some factory built nuclear reactors to a company in Central Eastern Europe. These are small, inefficient units by nuclear standards, producing only 27 megawatts for an installed price of only $25 Million. They plan to manufacture 4,000 units of the same design, thereby defeating Joe Romm’s objections. The factory will recycle the fuel, defeating the remainder of the objections to nuclear power. 27 megawatts divided by $25 Million = $0.9259 per installed watt. I think that includes fuel for 5 or 10 years, which is inside the core. It is a good deal for a small power plant. Electricity from this mini-nuke costs 5 to 6 cents per kilowatt hour. It shouldn’t be expected to produce electricity a cheaply as a 1000 MWe power plant, which can get the cost of electricity 30% below the cost from coal fired power plants. The 30% savings versus coal of course requires people who know how to do it right and who are motivated to do it right the first time.

  4. PS: Obama is going to have to arrange for somebody to “leak” the “secret” that coal contains uranium. Carol Browner may be the right person for that job. The fact that coal contains uranium is enough to convert most people to the nuclear camp. Of course the people who are relying on any part of the $100 Billion per year coal industry cash flow will go broke. Since they have had ample warning to sell their coal company stock, they have themselves to blame. The economy will not be hurt because the rest of us will have more money due to lower electric bills.

  5. Roger says:

    Why, if Obama did go on national TV to tell TV viewers the truth about how bad things could get if we don’t make dramatic changes, we might even be able to take the simple, logical step, as Hansen suggests, of putting in place a smart, up-ramping carbon tax and rebate system. Why not?

    Let’s be honest, the biggest attraction of the complex cap and trade system being proposed is that is doesn’t have the word “tax” in it–because no politician dare attach his name to that “toxic” word. Yet, in order to work in our market-driven economy, either approach must ultimately lead to higher prices, as a means of both allocating a scarce resource (our atmophere), and as a way of having carbon carry it’s full costs (including it’s ‘social cost’) in it’s price. Let’s remember to KISS, as in “Hey Bud, gas is gonna cost two bucks more–so its a hybrid for me!”

    Arguments that we can’t set quantitative CO2 reduction targets using a tax fall flat because price elasticity effects will become obvious fairly quickly, and taxes can be adjusted up or down to gain the desired reductions.

  6. LeraJenkins says:

    It absolutely agree

  7. PeterMontee says:

    Matchless topic, it is interesting to me))))