Last week John Broder wrote in The New York Times about contrasting views on climate policy among two top Obama administration officials: economic team leader Larry Summers, who favors "safety valves," slow phase-ins, and caution, and climate/energy czar empress Carol Browner, who favors strict carbon restrictions, quickly implemented.

(Broder’s article was irksome, by the way. At no point did he see fit to mention that the reason Browner and "environmentalists" favor stiffer carbon restrictions is not that they don’t care about costs but that they disagree about costs. The casual reader is left with the impression that economists and other Very Serious people have to do a "reality check" for la-la-land greens who don’t care about money or working people. Have we learned nothing from our experience with previous environmental regs? Why is historically ungrounded pessimism the same as "realism"? Grr. Wait, where was I?)

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Anyway, one wouldn’t want to make too much of this, but it seems like a good sign that earlier today when Obama met with his economic team, Browner was in the room.

Perhaps this is a signal that environmental policy gets a seat at the big kid’s table and doesn’t get filed under do-gooderism. Maybe we can’t persuade the economists to take efficiency or innovation seriously, but at least someone representing an optimistic assessment of costs will be around to temper all the pessimism. Let’s hope Summers takes her seriously despite her gender.

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