Another Radical Green Czar


Detroit — Van Jones may be gone, but radical czars still dictate green policy in the Obama White House.

Case in point is “Climate Czar” Carol Browner, former EPA chief under Bill Clinton and ghostwriter of Al Gore’s apocalyptic book Earth in the Balance. In the late 1990s, Browner championed the effort to apply Title VII U.S. civil rights law to plant permitting, arguing that locating industrial facilities in majority black cities “disproportionately impacted” minorities and was there “environmental racism.”

The policy provoked outrage among those black elected officials across the country who believe it’s a good thing to have jobs available in minority areas.

Some of those officials were in Michigan, where Browner’s green allies tried to use EPA rules to shut down electric power facilities and auto plants. At the time, Browner had already bagged the pelts of two major facilities in Louisiana — a plastics plant and nuclear fuel facility — that would have brought hundreds of jobs to minorities.

“The full force is already being felt at CMS Energy’s Genesee Power Station with an EPA environmental justice investigation that could result in orders ranging from shutting the plant to a broader demand on all nearby industries to lower the area’s pollution,” wrote Detroit News reporter Dave Mastio in 1998 (Mastio and I, writing for publications like Reason magazine and the Wall Street Journal, both investigated the story). “Metro Detroit could become a hotbed of such disputes with its large minority population and massive smoke-stack industries, which are primarily clustered in poorer communities. The issue has already come up between Arab residents and Ford Motor Co. over a new paint shop in the Dearborn assembly plant.”

Horrified by this threat to jobs within poor communities, Detroit mayor Dennis Archer led the primarily Democratic U.S. Conference of Mayors to scrap “green redlining” — so called because the EPA actually drew circles around plants located in minority areas that would encourage lawsuits. The mayors were joined by a rainbow coalition of groups from the National Association of Black County Officials to Republican pols like L.A.’s Richard Riordan and Michigan Rep. Joe Knollenberg.

Addressing the Black Chamber of Commerce’s annual meeting, then-U.S. Chamber president Thomas Donahue said: “I’m trying to think of a policy that would be more effective in driving away entrepreneurs and jobs from economically disadvantaged areas — and I can’t do it.”

Mastio’s News investigation further uncovered that Browner’s EPA had suppressed documents finding that there was not a corporate conspiracy to locate polluting industries in black areas (in fact, they are mostly in white areas), and the bipartisan outrage eventually led to a Congressional vote blocking the EPA rule.

A decade later, Browner is back in a key role for another Democratic administration. And last month, incredibly, she came to Michigan to tout “green” job growth as part of her campaign against global warming.

Not surprisingly, Michigan’s media saw no irony in Browner’s visit. But the ex-EPA chief — whom underlings once called “She Who Must Be Obeyed” — still has the same agenda as climate czar: Strangle American job producers.


Subscribe to National Review