Rick Perry, the U.S. Energy secretary and former Texas governor, became the face of the Trump administration’s “energy week” — where he caught a share of attention even as health legislation dominated the Capitol agenda.
“One of the things we want to do at DOE is to make nuclear energy cool again,” Perry told reporters Tuesday. In his youth, he recalled, many young people wanted to be nuclear engineers.
“That’s not so much the case today because this industry has been strangled all too often by government regulations,” Perry said.
When he opposed Trump in the GOP primary, Perry drew the current president’s personal abuse to the point where the Texan called the New Yorker a “cancer on conservatism.”
Bygones are clearly bygones.
The wattage of the event was in the eye of the beholder. Details are awaited in the months ahead. The mantra is deregulation for coal, fracking and fossil fuels, all underscored by President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the Paris climate accord.
Broadly, Trump himself talked about “a golden age of American energy dominance and the extraordinary financial and security benefits that it brings to our citizens.”
Trump told a gathering repeatedly about the need to stop restricting drilling and mining. He told American Indian leaders on hand: “Many of your lands have rich natural resources that stand to benefit your people immensely.”
Naturally there is tension outside the administration. Environmental groups are voicing opposition to regulatory rollbacks and proposed spending cuts to relevant programs.
And there are Trumpian idiosyncrasies at work — specifically regarding wind turbines, which he has long disparaged.
On June 21, he did so again at a campaign rally in Iowa, which is reported to get nearly a third of its power from that source.
He said he was bringing back coal and “I don’t want to just hope the wind blows to light up your homes.” Oddly, he told rally-goers in August: “The wind kills all your birds.”
But in November 2015 he told a different audience of Iowans he was courting: “I’m OK with subsidies, to an extent. . . . If oil goes up [in price], it’s great. But if oil stays low, it’s a very tough business.”
In March, local wind-energy proponents expressed relief when the Department of Interior completed an auction of offshore sites for building the modern windmills. Also, an administration official stated limited support for such projects.
At the same time, Trump’s first budget proposed an end to green-energy programs, including research and development.
Trump has long fretted that an offshore wind farm would ruin the views for his golf course in Scotland — and repeatedly attacked officials there for supporting it, even after he was elected.