Mark Tapscott writes:
Carol Browner, former Clinton administration EPA head and current Obama White House climate czar, instructed auto industry execs “to put nothing in writing, ever” regarding secret negotiations she orchestrated regarding a deal to increase federal Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) standards.
Rep. James Sensenbrenner, R-WI, is demanding a congressional investigation of Browner’s conduct in the CAFE talks, saying in a letter to Rep. Henry Waxman, D-CA, that Browner “intended to leave little or no documentation of the deliberations that lead to stringent new CAFE standards.”
The NYT first reported on this – in a positive light, of course – back in May:
SAN FRANCISCO — There was a simple rule for negotiations between the White House and California on vehicle fuel economy: Put nothing in writing.
Mary Nichols, the head of the California Air Resources Board, and Carol Browner, President Obama’s point person on energy and climate change, were key in crafting a plan to impose the first-ever national carbon limits on cars and trucks. The emissions standards, announced yesterday by the president in the Rose Garden, would bring federal requirements in line with levels sought by California over much of the last decade (Greenwire, May 19).
In an interview yesterday, Nichols said Browner quietly orchestrated private discussions from the White House with auto industry officials. Browner started the talks soon after becoming Obama’s special assistant on energy and climate, a position that gives her wide-ranging authority to coordinate top officials at the Council on Environmental Quality, U.S. EPA, and the departments of Energy and Transportation.
Similar discussions had taken place well before the elections last year between Nichols and the auto industry, but those talks stopped soon after Obama defeated Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) for the presidency. Serious work toward a compromise that would set a single national standard and stop the legal wrangling over California’s attempt to regulate vehicular carbon did not resume until Browner came aboard at the White House, Nichols said.
It was then that Nichols and Browner decided to keep their discussions as quiet as possible, holding no group meetings and taking care to not leak updates to the press. This strategy, they felt, would help facilitate fast progress outside the media frenzy that often dominates Washington politics.
“We put nothing in writing, ever,” Nichols said. “That was one of the ways we made sure that everyone’s ability to talk freely was protected.”
She added, “It’s an astonishing thing that on something of this magnitude there were no leaks.”
Pretty much says it all about “hope-n-change,” eh? And do I need to even mention in passing how this story would have been treated had it been an article about Bush administration officials telling people to “put nothing in writing?”
MM sums it up:
Old sunshine-dodging habits die hard.
Obama lied, transparency died.