President Barack Obama's top energy and climate adviser, Carol Browner, is the latest in a series of White House staff departures.
On Jan. 24, government officials confirmed that Browner, who served as an administrator with the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) under former President Bill Clinton, will step down from her post. Although White House sources would not confirm if her position would be filled, Browner is expected to remain on staff for several weeks to ensure a smooth transition during Obama's reorganization efforts.
Browner was instrumental in pushing certain elements of Obama's eco-friendly agenda, such as new fuel economy and greenhouse gas emissions standards with automakers. However, comprehensive legislation to address climate change stalled in Congress last year, and a new GOP-led House of Representatives makes it unlikely that the 112th Congress will approve legislation that establishes a firm limit on greenhouse gas emissions.
According to The Hill, Republicans and some centrist Democrats are gearing up to strip the EPA of some of its power — granted by the Clean Air Act — to set climate change goals. Leading up to Obama's State of the Union speech, several environmental agencies and liberal Democrats voiced their hopes that the President would address these issues.
"From a political point of view, it is very important that [Obama] signal Republicans early that if they try and stop EPA via a debt-ceiling bill or a spending bill, he will veto it," an environmentalist told the news provider.