While still bracing for a fight in Congress, Carol Browner can
breathe a lot easier today.
For weeks, it was rumored the embattled administrator of the
Environmental Protection Agency was on the politically endangered
species list. The target of a multimillion-dollar negative ad
campaign by business and under attack from some of her own
colleagues at the White House, she just dug in her heels.
Ms. Browner says current scientific evidence showed the nation's
clean-air standards for smog and soot weren't tough enough, and
hundreds of thousands of Americans were suffering.
"This is about allowing children to play outside on warm summer
days," says Browner.
Known for staking out strong environmental stands, Browner is
not a newcomer to political dogfights. She earned her stripes as
legislative director for then-senator Al Gore from 1988-1991. She
then moved to head Florida's Department of Environmental Regulation
where she took on Walt Disney in a wetlands dispute and wealthy
sugarcane growers over use of the Everglades.
Many pundits contend Browner's success in the clean-air fight
secures her authority within the Clinton Cabinet, and in the
history books as a forceful, effective EPA administrator.
"She really emerges from this a bright, shinning star," says
Gene Karpinski, executive director of the United States Public
Interest Research Group (USPIRG).
But to the business community, which vows to take its fight to
Congress, Browner will be remembered for imposing costly,
unnecessary regulations that they predict will cost tens of
thousands of jobs.
"It's a dark day not for only Ohioans, but for many citizens
across this country because a lot of people will be financially
hurt this. It's just an extreme mean-spirited position," says Rep.
Robert Ney (R) of Ohio. He has introduced a bill to block
implementation of the standards and has more than 30 co-sponsors.
The business community appeared to be making headway before the
"If we felt the science warranted it, we'd be fully supportive,
but it ... doesn't," says Theresa Larson of the National
Association of Manufacturers.
More than 250 legislators and almost 30 governors wrote the
president and the EPA opposing the proposal, fearing it would
stifle economic growth in the inner cities and drive up electric
costs in the Midwest. The US Conference of Mayors also went on
record this week opposing the move.
Last week, there was talk Browner had overstepped her bounds and
undermined her own authority by refusing to bend. …