Perry says he regrets call to eliminate Energy Department

Ronald Pratt
January 20, 2017

Mr. Perry, President-elect Donald Trump's pick for Energy secretary, answered questions before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee Thursday morning as his confirmation hearing got under way. "In fact, after being briefed on some of the vital functions of the Department of Energy, I regret recommending its elimination".

During his 2012 presidential campaign, Perry called for the elimination of the Energy Department but famously forgot its name during a debate.

Perry, 66, also vowed to protect US nuclear stockpiles, "keeping them modern and safe", beef up security measures and "promote energy in all forms".

The New York Times reports when President-elect Donald Trump tapped the former Texas governor to head the Energy Department, he thought he would be tasked with managing the USA oil and gas industry.

He also promised to rely on scientific data when making decisions about climate change, which he said is occurring, in part, by man-made activity.

Perry's views on climate change appear to have also undergone a dramatic change since his 2010 book Fed Up! in which he disputed "so-called" climate science, saying "we have been experiencing a cooling trend".

Perry's senate confirmation hearing is set for Thursday, Jan. 19. Democrats and environmental groups have derided Perry's nomination, calling him a steep drop-off from the two renowned physicists who preceded him as energy chief, Steven Chu and Ernest Moniz. "I don't want that information", Perry said.

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"When Senator Angus King pressed him on the matter, Perry responded that he "[has] a history of protecting budgets from those in the know", to which King replied, "It's hard to believe the people who proposed these cuts are in the know".

He was colossally wrong, of course, because the Department of Energy's main task is to deal with nuclear weapons and nuclear security. Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) during Perry's hearing. Commerce and, let's see.

Asked to commit to a federal renewable energy target, he said he would not, citing his belief in federalism.

Here are some highlights from his almost four-hour hearing, seemingly half of which consisted of senators inviting Secretary Perry to visit their home-state labs and energy projects.

Trump, who will be sworn in as president on Friday, has vowed to slash US regulations curbing carbon dioxide emissions and has suggested pulling America out of a global climate change pact signed in Paris in 2015. He once said of the organization, "They've never created one bit of energy, the best I can tell".

Perry has since claimed that it wasn't the Department of Energy that he couldn't recall.

The former Texas governor also said that, if confirmed, he will "advocate and promote American energy in all forms, and that includes renewables".