Kernen: Energy Czar Browner is 'Scary' during 'Once in a Lifetime Recession'

     President-elect Barack Obama named Carol Browner the “czar” of climate and energy policy for the White House, but CNBC’s Joe Kernen was wary of her appointment.


     “You can see that even in Europe, some of the climate concerns, given this, this once in a lifetime recession, John – to put someone that, an advocate of such strong measures,” Kernen said on “Squawk Box” Dec. 11. “Really I’ve seen her called Brownies or Brownistas. Um. That’s a little scary with what’s happening right now.”


     Earlier Kernen was discussing cabinet appoints with CNBC Washington correspondent John Harwood and pointed to new regulations Browner could institute:


     “But is this a little bit of a payback to the left? This lady is going to be our energy czar. She’s going to coordinate all the different federal agencies. She wants at this point to, um, go back and revisit that California decision not – to not allow that company to regulate greenhouse gas emissions from auto vehicles, that’s just what the automobile companies need right now, John. Also, she would like to reconsider the EPA, whether they can consider greenhouse gases an ‘endanger to health or welfare’ and then actually have regulators under the Clean Air Act regulating carbon dioxide.”


     Kernen said such regulation could apply to “schools, bakeries, breweries, places of worship and other small emitters.”


     Harwood responded, “Now, I think on the Carol Browner appointment, that’s kind of interesting because he’s about to appoint a Nobel prize winning physicist to be his energy secretary, but Carol Browner in the White House is going to be energy czar and you’ve got to wonder how the balance of power is going to be struck between those two.”


     “On that California emissions law, that’s one of the bargaining chips, Joe, in the discussions between House and Senate over this bailout for automakers in the House is insisting on uh, sort of defending the California law. But I think you can expect that’s going to get dropped in order to get Republican votes in the Senate, try to get that thing through,” Harwood concluded.


     The New York Times reported Dec. 10 that Browner’s job at the White House was still under discussion, but aides said that she would advocate for Obama’s energy policy on Capitol Hill and coordinate policy between departments.

     Browner recently worked for former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright at Albright Capital Management, but has also held positions at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency from 1993-2001. She has also worked for Florida’s Department of Environmental Regulation and the senate office of then Sen. Al Gore, D-Tenn., according to The Associated Press, Dec. 11.