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?


6 Responses

  1. Though Browner never did much of anything toward cleaning up the Fenholloway, in fact, attempted to set a very hign dioxin standard along with her best buds, the pulp & paper executives, she certainly did not act in collusion with writer Julie Hauserman on any issue.
    Browner was not in the 60 Minutes piece. P&G/Buckeye drained the San Pedro Bay, with the help of the ACOE, back in the 50’s and 60’s. And the town of Perry was and still is in despair over the air and groundwater (well water) pollution still being caused by the mill. Neither Browner nor Hauserman caused that despair in Perry – P&G/Buckeye is guilty of that.
    The oil fumes mixed with the stink from the mill will likely make the Gulf unbearable. I hate to think of what is about to happen with the Big Bend Seagrass Preserve and how much larger that ten square miles of dead zone will be.
    Please get your facts straight before you write about the Fenholloway again.

  2. Welcome to my blog Ms Ezell, glad you are still able to sit up and take nourishment.

    It is my blog and you are not required to read, agree with or rebut it. But nevertheless you are free to speak your piece, just wish you would try to get your facts right before you challenge mine.

    Please do not try to cloak your cause into the gulf Oil Spill of 2010. Try to focus on something other than your own interests. Anything you can do to help with the oil spill will be of value. But it has virtually nothing to do with the Fenholloway I only mention it to make a point about the lack of leadership that the person in charge of the US environment exhibits today.

    I did not say that Browner was on the 60 minute piece, I also didn’t mention that CBS ran retractions after they aired it. I can’t name all the folks who drained the bay but P & G did do what I said. Julie Hauserman and Carol Browner did cause great despair in Taylor County, and their zeal was quickly embraced by the global print & broadcast media as well. Those inside DER employees who were not her fans were quite knowledgeable and vocal about how confidential information was passed. Hauserman continued to run the story at every turn and got front page billing from the Democrat.

    Do you recall that Carol Dadisman, then the Democrat Publisher, spoke at a Perry Kiwanis Cub luncheon and said that he threw a dart at a map of Florida to reward Hauserman a recreational vacation for good work and it just happened to land on the Fenholloway… that is how she first learned of it? Do you recall a false police report filed by some of your buds regarding an attack on 2 women by 3 “masked” men that allegedly warned them away from protesting the Mills Effluent? Or that the “cigar burn” was actually a Lincoln head penny? Or that the press arrived at the scene before the police?

    Your opinion of the people at Buckeye since you left their employment is well documented and could not be more biased.

    That being said you are welcome to blog away, but you are not the blog police.

  3. Where did “Morticia” come from? I was at DER when Carol was there and I never heard it.

  4. Where did “Morticia” come from? I was at DER when Carol was there and I never heard it.

    Ya musta not been an insider.

  5. However I don’t answer your question. Morticia came from th Adams Family which ran as a cartoon for decades and then became a TV sitcom in the 60’s. Browner was/is often dressed in black.

  6. No, I wasn’t an “insider.”

    I did make the connection to the Adams Family. I didn’t see Carol much, so I never noticed the “black” in her style.

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