President-elect Donald Trump named former Texas Governor Rick Perry to head the Department of Energy (DOE). Trump’s selection of Perry stands in sharp contrast to President Obama’s first energy secretary, Dr. Steven Chu.
The DOE is a sprawling department engaged in everything from energy security to energy research, including the nation’s national laboratories and the safety and cleanup of nuclear weapons. Under Obama, the DOE got heavily involved in clean energy research, reducing the use of fossil fuels, and the Iran nuclear deal as part of its nuclear nonproliferation activities.
Here are the three major differences between Chu and Perry:
1. Perry has executive experience and created jobs
Dr. Chu is a Noble Prize-winning physicist that spent his career in various research capacities in academia and last served as the head of DOE’s Lawrence Berkley National Lab before President Obama appointed him to run the department. Chu ran the DOE from January 2009 to April 2013.
At the DOE, Chu supported Obama’s clean energy investment efforts as well as the president’s climate change agenda.
Rick Perry served as the governor of Texas for three terms and campaigned for the Republican nomination for president in both 2012 and 2016. Perry graduated from Texas A&M and was a pilot for the Air Force, leaving the military in 1977 as a captain.
During Perry’s 14 year service as governor, Texas was powered by its fossil fuel energy resources, low taxes, and business-friendly environment. Texas became a U.S. leader in job creation with the state adding more than 2.2 million new jobs.
Ironically, Perry called for eliminating the DOE during his 2012 run for president.
2. Perry doubts man-made global warming, loves fossil fuels, and opposes burdensome energy regulations
Disparate views on global warming drive the major policy difference between Dr. Chu and Perry.
Chu believes man’s activities are causing climate change and supports energy regulations as a way to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Chu promoted Obama’s cap-and-trade legislation during Obama’s first term, and told the president in 2012 that a carbon tax is the best way to tackle climate change.
Consistent with promoting higher fossil fuel prices as means to reduce consumption, Chu made national news just prior to his confirmation when he called for gas prices similar to those in EU countries: "Somehow we have to figure out how to boost the price of gasoline to the levels in Europe.” Following Chu’s comment, Republicans accused the Obama administration of wanting gasoline prices over $8 per gallon.
Chu is also a huge critic of coal. He said, “Coal is my worst nightmare,” because of its role in causing global warming and seriously questioned the carbon capture technology that would bury carbon dioxide underground.
In contrast, Perry is not convinced of man’s role in causing global warming and is very critical of the alarmist community, “It’s all one contrived phony mess that is falling apart under its own weight. Al Gore is a prophet, all right, a false prophet of a secular carbon cult and now even moderate Democrats aren’t buying it.”
Perry doesn't want to jeopardize economic growth “on a scientific theory.” Accordingly, he sees climate change regulations as an impediment to leveraging the massive fossil fuel resources in the U.S.
The former governor also supports energy infrastructure including the Keystone XL pipeline and he is currently on the board of Energy Transfer Partners — the company that is building the Dakota Access Pipeline.
Perry also favors coal for electricity generation. As governor, he supported the construction of coal-fired power plants and issued an executive order to expedite permits for coal plants.
3. Perry opposes federal energy subsidies
Under Chu, the DOE significantly increased its clean energy research projects with huge sums of money from Obama’s 2009 economic stimulus funds. The DOE plowed more than $30 billion for research into renewable energy, energy efficiency, and battery development technology.
The high-profile bankruptcies of companies backed by DOE funds such as Solyndra, Fisker Automotive, and many others became the poster child of wasteful government spending. Crony capitalism tarnished Chu’s leadership.
Perry is not opposed to renewable energy. In fact, Texas became the largest producer of wind energy due to a wind power mandate.
Perry does, however, oppose the federal government's role in picking winners and losers through energy subsidies and grants. He specifically criticized the money that was lost on the solar power company Solyndra.
What to expect from Secretary Perry
Given the vast differences in attitudes on global warming between Obama and Trump — which is reflected in their picks to run the DOE — it’s likely the department will reduce its research and promotional efforts on clean energy research. This assessment is based on a Trump transition team question about the department’s clean energy goals and its energy research grant and loan programs.
Dr. Tom Borelli is a contributor to Conservative Review. As a columnist he has written for Townhall.com, The Washington Times, Newsmax magazine, and also hosts radio programs on SiriusXM Patriot with his wife Deneen Borelli. Dr. Borelli has appeared on numerous television programs on Newsmax TV, Fox News, Fox Business and TheBlaze. For more of his reports, Go Here Now.
This article originally appeared on ConservativeReview.com.
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