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What's an 'energy czar,' anyway?

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NEWSCOM/File

(Read caption) Unlike Carol Browner, Czar Alexander III of Russia never served as administrator of the EPA.

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It's not official yet, but news reports say that President Clinton's former Environmental Protection Agency chief Carol Browner has been chosen by Barack Obama to serve as his administration's "energy czar." What exactly does an energy czar do?

As The Wall Street Journal noted last week, the Obama administration sees a challenge in coordinating all the federal agencies that have a hand in energy policy, including the Department of Transportation, which sets fuel economy standards; the Department of the Interior, which grants permits for oil and gas drilling on federal land; the EPA, which regulates air and water quality; the Department of Commerce, which develops infrastructure to promote economic growth and sustainable development; and of course the Department of Energy.

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