Rick Perry Having ‘The Time Of His Life’ Running The Agency He Couldn’t Remember He Wanted To Eliminate


Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry said earlier in May that he’s having a blast running the agency he promised to eliminate during the 2012 presidential campaign.

Perry has become a strong defender of the Department of Energy, especially the 17 national labs that conduct research on national security, renewable energy, and issues affecting the electrical grid.

He became the butt of jokes during his ill-fated run for the presidency when the Texas Republican forgot that the Energy Department was one of the agencies he intended on shuttering.

“I’m telling you officially the coolest job I’ve ever had is being secretary of energy … and it’s because of these labs,” Perry told an audience in May at Idaho National Laboratory. “If you work at a national lab … you are making a difference.”

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President Donald Trump’s budget includes 17 percent cuts to the Office of Science, which includes 10 national labs. His budget would also reduce spending for renewable and nuclear energy, as well as eliminate the Energy Star program that seeks to enhance energy efficiency.

Perry will be asked to defend the cuts, as well as Trump’s decision to pull the U.S. out of the Paris climate agreement, which the former governor supported. He has indicated a willingness to push back against some of the cuts to the agency.

“Hopefully we will be able to make that argument to our friends in Congress that what DOE is involved with plays a vital role, not only in the security of America but the economic well-being of the country as we go forward,” Perry said earlier this year during a tour of the Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee.

He has spoken out in favor of wind and solar power in the past, noting that Texas became one of the top wind power producers in the country, as well as a major producer of natural gas and other fossil fuel products.

There is a limit to Perry’s support, however. For instance, he ordered a study in April examining to what extent renewable energy such as wind and solar power are hurting what the Trump administration considers reliable forms of coal power.

Perry said at the time that he wants the Energy Department to undergo a 60-day review of the energy grid to determine if green energy subsidies are hurting more reliable forms of energy like natural gas and coal.

“We are blessed as a nation to have an abundance of domestic energy resources, such as coal, natural gas,” Perry wrote in a memo to his chief of staff, Brian McCormack. The DOE chief was referring to sources of energy he and President Donald Trump believe should be included when discussing the country’s energy grid.

Perry’s review also seeks to evaluate to what extent regulatory burdens, subsidies, and tax policies “are responsible for forcing the premature retirement of baseload power plants.”

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