Carol Browner was Florida Secretary of the Department of Environmental Regulation in the Childs administration in the early 90’s. She was a young ambitious climbing star in environmental politics. She had worked for Senator Al Gore in Tennessee and Lawton Childs did Al a favor and gave her a chance to build a reputation. She seized the day, laying sword and lance to the businesses in Florida and gaining the national spotlight in preparation of VP Al Gores call to Washington to run EPA. When she left EPA she wiped her hard drive. Now she is the top Obama appointment for Energy Policy and protection of our Environment……….Energy Czar.

Some might be puzzled about that as she has not been at all prominent during the last 60 days of the Gulf Oil spill. Perhaps a closer look is warranted.

Browner (better know by insiders as Morticia) was a ruthless headline grabber and environmental crusader when she came to Tallahassee. One of her most notable campaigns was to make the Fenholloway River in Taylor County “fishable and swimmable.” Now the river was designated industrial in the early 1950’s by the Florida Legislature in hopes of attracting a dissolving pulp mill to stimulate the sagging economy in Perry. They were successful and several years later Proctor & Gamble drained the San Pedro Bay at the rivers head and began emptying its effluent into the river which flows 17 miles to the Gulf. The river met all federal standards but, in truth, the effluent was ugly and it stank. P & G had its secret chemical formula for the dissolving pulp process and over the years it pretty much killed the river and its bed. SO the river was legal, and dead. It would take a legislative act to stop the Mill from using the river. But lads and lassies, it will never be fishable and swimmable again.

Browner didn’t care, she used her position as head of the Florida DER to gain national prominence as “a defender of the environment.” She gained global headlines because P & G owned the mill. She was on the front page of USA today and Leslie Stahl did a spot on it for 60 Minutes. Browner abused her power with the help of Pulitzer Prize hopeful Julie  Hauserman of the Tallahassee Democrat and created an aura of despair around the town of Perry.

There were other more effective avenues of quietly negotiating with P & G behind the scenes that she disdained to employ. She could have worked with the legislature instead of against them. So she knows how to be adversarial and is not afraid to take on Giant Companies to “save the environment.” (talks still go on between government and the Mill 17 years later so nothing substantial was really accomplished…except her image as dragon slayer was propagated)

Where is she today? While the oil gushes like a killing cloud into the Gulf and threatens to kill a major part of life in the Gulf States, she sits demurely at the side of Obama and chants the mantra of making BP pay. Is this a leader? Is this the same person that ruthlessly stalked the Governmental corridors in Tallahassee? No. She is not hungry now, she is as high as she can go in the environmental hierarchy unless ALGORE becomes king. She’s got hers, and the prospects of post Obama book writing and consulting are far too enticing to actually risk getting her hands oily now, and doing her job.

Now is the time we actually need a leader to own and manage the removal of oil from the Gulf. It’s not Browner, she wants more reform and months to study the situation to effect good environmental policy (what she said on Meet the Press two weeks ago).

This week she sympathetically offered that she is from Florida, so she feels the pain. I fervently wish she had not shared that with the rest of the world, it just pours salt into the teeth marks she already left.

Morticia, don’t come home, it’s quite likely to smell infinitely worse than the Fenholloway pretty soon. Oil would make an apt substitute for tar, could feathers be far behind?


Small People

The Chairman of BP spoke in the Rose Garden yesterday. He spoke of how BP understood the destruction of the oil spill on the people of the Gulf States. He spoke of a 20 Billion dollar escrow account that would help mitigate the disaster that his company unleashed on the Gulf World (and perhaps the entire world.) He spoke of how his company would help the small people who are suffering.

Small People!

As opposed to who? Really important people? Rich people? People who truly matter in the scope of civilization?

Obama speaks of making BP accountable, setting up new commissions, new expanded appointees and returning the Gulf to where it was before.

It is all the babble of “politico speak” full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. No one is accountable and no one is talking about the most important aspect of the day, STOPING the oil spreading to the coasts. It’s clearly no one’s job to stop it, for if it was, and they failed, then the smear of oil is all over them. SO everyone ducks it and talks about cleaning up and paying off the victims.

Well folks ya can’t pay off the Gulf. Ya can’t recreate a way of life that vanishes. When its gone its gone. No one is talking about how every minute the oil remains in the gulf something dies. There is no urgency and no leadership.

We should have had containment operations lined up in the gulf after week 1 being coordinated by a united command that was actually prepared for the catastrophe.  And the world should have been summoned to help. It is the number 1 priority in the survival of the Gulf, clean it up now not next year.

Yes, we are all partially to blame for the use of oil that led to this disaster. Yes we need change in our energy policies and oil dependence. But what we needed first was to contain and remove the oil from the Gulf.

It isn’t happening yet! After nearly 60 days the leaders are lined up in a circle pointing fingers and babbling about ancillary issues instead of removing the oil from the Gulf.

Carl-Hendric Svanberg was right about one thing, there are some small people out there, problem is……….they are in charge.