Former President Bill Clinton’s Environmental Protection Agency chief was a paid consultant of the nuclear power industry while also serving as a senior fellow at a prominent D.C-based liberal think tank.
Carol Browner, who headed the EPA under Clinton and was also President Barack Obama’s top environmental policy adviser, was paid by the nuclear industry to push “for government policies that help keep nuclear power plants online,” according to reporting by The New York Times and the New England Center for Investigative Reporting.
NYT released a report Monday detailing how some think tank fellows were working as paid consultants for various industries. Browner was only one of several think tankers the Times profiled.
Browner promoted nuclear power plants while she was also a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress — a liberal think tank founded by Hillary Clinton’s campaign chairman John Podesta. Browner is no longer a senior fellow at CAP, but she still serves on the group’s board of directors.
The Times reported Browner “has traveled to cities around the world — including Chicago and Davos, Switzerland — where introductions of her included her credential as a distinguished senior fellow at the Center for American Progress” while she was on the leadership council of the industry-backed Nuclear Matters.
“At these stops, she has argued that any solution to climate change must include nuclear energy because it generates power without producing emissions that are blamed for global warming, even though, as an environmentalist, she was once a critic of nuclear power,” NYT reported Monday.
Environmentalists tend to oppose nuclear power over radiation and safety concerns, instead favoring wind and solar power as the solution to global warming. Browner’s support for nuclear is a way to build up the energy source’s credibility among eco-conscious, liberals.
Browner, once skeptical of nuclear power, has since come around and written numerous op-eds in support of keeping nuclear power plants open across the country. NYT reports Browner’s “change of heart on nuclear power had predated her engagement with Nuclear Matters, and was motivated by her desire to combat climate change, not by payment from the industry.”
“Obviously, the single most important thing any individual has is their reputation,” she told NYT. “I have worked really hard to be forthcoming about what I stand for and believe in. I am who I am.”
Nuclear Matters did not respond to a request for comment.
NYT didn’t just criticize Browner for taking money from the nuclear industry, the paper published an article Sunday critical of the Brookings Institution’s taking of money from one of America’s largest property developers. Lennar Corporation gave Brookings $400,000 in 2010, part of which came from the company’s solar energy division.
Brooking’s got the funding right around when the D.C.-based think tank published a report on the benefits of policies to promote net metering — a policy to promote rooftop solar panels.
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