Once thought of as an Al Gore protege, Carol Browner is now President Obama's director of energy and climate change policy. The Assistant to the President for Energy and Climate Change was chief administrator for the Environmental Protection Agency from 1993 to 2001, serving longer than any other administrator.
Browner spent time on the board of the Alliance for Climate Protection, Gore's climate campaign, as well as the Center for American Progress, a public policy research and advocacy group, before stepping down to join the Obama administration. She has been acknowledged as a key negotiator to the comprehensive Waxman-Markey climate bill, as well as the auto bailout.
In this excerpted interview with ABC News, she talked today about the work that lies ahead as the Obama Administration crafts its energy policy.
Q: It has been suggested that a new energy bill will be introduced in the Senate Earth Day, April 22.
A: There is a bipartisan team, Sen. [John] Kerry [D-Mass.], [Joe] Lieberman [Connecticut independent Democrat] and [Lindsey] Graham [R-S.C.] working to craft legislation that would meet the goal of a comprehensive energy plan. I think they are working over the next several weeks to put that bill out…
Q: What does the president want included?
A: We would hope a plan would build on work that we're already doing. The president has said repeatedly -- at the State of the Union [and] last week -- what we need is a comprehensive energy plan for this country, one that breaks our dependence on foreign oil, one that creates a new generation of clean energy jobs, and one that puts a cap on the dangerous pollutants that contribute to global warming. We're encouraged by the fact that the House has already passed the bill.
China right now is guaranteeing that they will build so many wind farms, so many solar farms. That kind of guarantee leads to direct investment. We need to make the same kinds of guarantees.
A: We're hoping a comprehensive energy bill will set a renewable electricity standard, a significant commitment to nuclear [energy]. We believe that natural gas offers real opportunities. We think that it's important to invest in carbon capture and sequestration. We have a lot of coal facilities in this country, we have coal, and we need to make sure that we're making investments so that if we continue to use coal, we're doing it in a way that is not damaging to the environment.
We also hope that there will be an investment to allow us to develop the technology for the next-generation vehicles, for example battery technology, we're making significant investments. We want to not only have the benefits of clean energy, we also want to participate and lead the world in the clean energy revolution…
Q: What about a cap on carbon or some other pricing mechanism?
A: We need a cap on carbon; we absolutely believe that, we are open to what are the mechanisms for ensuring what is the lowest cost for compliance. A trading regime certainly can be a very important part of that, and senators are looking at a variety of options. It's fairly safe to say that they will incorporate some type of trading mechanism.
Q: Opponents of the bill have argued it will actually cause energy prices to skyrocket and mean the reduction of jobs. What's your response to that.