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Browner Coordinated Oil Spill Response as Key Cabinet Officials Failed

Politico this morning published a lengthy profile on Carol Browner, the White House’s climate and energy adviser or “climate czar.” The story focuses on rumors that Browner will abandon her post now that climate change legislation has a near-zero chance of passing Congress. The story cites little evidence that this will happen other than off-the-record speculation from environmentalists.

But there is another interesting tidbit in the story focusing on Browner’s work during the administration’s response to the Gulf oil spill. Politico reports that Browner was given a major role coordinating the response after Interior Secretary Ken Salazar, Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano and Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson failed to do so.

According to Politico:

Those traits served Browner well when the administration scrambled to cope with the fallout from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf. White House insiders said that Obama and Emanuel were deeply frustrated by bureaucratic tangling during the first days of the spill and felt that the response needed a strong, centralized command based in the West Wing. [...]

But aides said it was only after Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano, Interior Secretary Ken Salazar and EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson proved unable to coordinate the massive interagency effort that Obama and Emanuel tapped Browner to quarterback.

“She knew how to put together all the pieces,” said an administration official involved in the talks.

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