U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry laid out steps necessary for energy dominance during the Energy Information Administration conference on June 27. (Source: Darren Barbee/Hart Energy)
WASHINGTON—U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry said his “marching orders” from President Donald Trump aren’t merely to push the U.S. to energy independence, but to leverage the nation’s resources to advance its interests.
Perry, addressing the morning session at the 2017 Energy Information Administration (EIA) conference on June 27, said his new boss wants “America to be energy dominant.”
“That’s his vision for America—an all of the above energy policy,” Perry said.
That includes increased oil and LNG exports; streamlining regulations; renewable energy and caretaking the nation’s nuclear energy portfolio. However, some were left wondering what “dominance” would look like.
Swiping at former President Barack Obama, Perry said he watched during past eight years as policymaking was driven by political agendas.
“Previous leaders have said they were for American energy independence,” he said.
However, those leaders “didn’t want to drill for it, didn’t want to mine it, didn’t want to transport it and didn’t want to sell it.”
The nation should instead use its energy sources free of the “heavy hand of regulation.”
“Instead of choosing political favorites and tilting the energy marketplace, we will pursue an all-of-the-above energy policy that is agnostic to source while pursuing technologies that can reduce emissions,” Perry said.
Echoing Trump’s “America first” pledge, Perry said “we want energy that is made in America, for the good of America and American jobs and the energy security of the world.”
Perry’s talk was interrupted less than two minutes after it began. The former governor of Texas faced two women who separately shouted questions at him. In both incidents, about three minutes apart, Perry was called a “climate denier” and asked why he doesn’t believe carbon dioxide causes climate change. Perry recently made comments about carbon dioxide on national television.
Perry responded that he has said he doesn’t believe carbon dioxide is “the main dial” controlling climate change. But he thanked one of the women, saying it’s “OK to ask questions, to be skeptical about information. I think it’s OK to ask those questions and say ‘let's dig into this a little deeper, and let's find the other side if you will.’ ”
Skeptics such as George Mitchell resisted “settled science”—including the notion that oil and gas reserves were all but depleted, he said. Mitchell pioneered the use of hydraulic fracturing technology, leading to the rise of the U.S. shale revolution, Perry said.
Perry laid out the steps it will take to dominate on the world stage.
“First we’ll attack the conventional wisdom that says you can’t drive the economy without harming the environment,” Perry said.
As governor, Texas led the nation in job creation and became home to a highly industrialized sector, he said.
“Yet we reduced our carbon footprint and drastically reduced sulphuric dioxide and nitrogen oxide emissions, despite adding some 7 million people to the population,” he said.
Renewable energy should have a place in the energy mix, Perry said, noting that he championed wind energy as governor.
“We’re going to ensure that renewable energy finds its way to the grid and the tremendous resources presented by the wind, the sun, hydro are efficiently captured and then delivered,” he said.
However, Perry said he wants to eliminate policies that give preference to any one source of energy.
The U.S. should also invest in nuclear power while continuing to take advantage of the abundance of its natural resources through increased exports. He noted that recent LNG shipments have reached the Netherlands and Poland.
“Energy policy is not just a vital element of U.S. economic policy but also a vital element of U.S. foreign policy,” he said.
In a later session on petroleum exports and global competition, Sarah Ladislaw, director of the Energy and National Security Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, challenged Perry’s premise.
“What is energy dominance? We just got a recipe for it this morning, but I’m still not quite sure what it means,” she said.
Ladislaw said many people would consider exports of oil and refined products as a key area.
In her 15 years spent studying energy independence and melding the concept with the benefits received from global markets, Ladislaw said Perry may need to be more specific.
“We’re trying to absorb and digest” what dominance is, she said.
Darren Barbee can be reached at email@example.com.