|"Forget the Rest" blog|
For immediate release Tuesday, December 13, 2016
Trump Selects Former Texas Governor Rick Perry
Contact: Greg Mello, 505-265-1200 (office), 505-577-8563 (cell)
Albuquerque – The Trump transition team has selected former Texas governor Rick Perry as his administration’s nominee for Secretary of Energy.
As Coral Davenport of the New York Times has pointed out, Mr. Perry (in 2011) advocated eliminating the Department of Energy (DOE), which has been a favorite target of some conservatives since the earliest years of this century if not before. Over the years numerous bills aiming to eliminate the department have been proposed by congressional Republicans.
The Perry announcement comes on the heels of a highly-intrusive and ideological questionnaire delivered by the Trump team to the DOE. It is plainly the beginning of a witch hunt. The agency is pushing back somewhat; yesterday DOE said it would not answer questions about individual climate researchers.
The choice of Perry, the DOE questionnaire, and Trump’s picks of anti-EPA crusader Scott Pruitt to head the EPA and Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson as Secretary of State, go a long way to help clarify the general nature of the incoming administration’s default energy and environmental policies.
Study Group director Greg Mello:
“Rick Perry doesn’t know much about DOE’s business and is a poor fit for the job. He knows nothing about nuclear weapons, DOE’s largest program, currently 30% of total spending. Perry cannot help but know a little about the oil and gas business of course, but this comprises just 3% of DOE’s work. If confirmed, Perry – like all his predecessors – will find it difficult to manage the loose archipelago of contractors, laboratories, production plants, waste sites, and civil servants that comprise this most privatized of federal departments.
“Perry’s mandate may be less about management and more about being a wrecking ball, which would fit into his prior predilections. But as unpleasant as that may be for all concerned, we have to face the fact that DOE’s day of reckoning cannot be postponed forever.
“DOE and its labs, with the exception of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) in Golden, CO, and the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory (LBL), have generally failed in the Department’s original, core energy mission. They and the Department are also failing to sound the alarm about the existential dangers of climate change. Still less have these labs, or the present highly-intelligent Secretary, articulated any viable energy and climate path for the U.S. going forward.
“As regards oil, to pick a fuel, today, a year after the peak of the not-to-be-repeated shale oil boom, the US finds itself importing more than half its oil, a fraction which is now increasing. Oil demand from the largest developing countries, China and India, is also increasing rapidly. This is happening against a largely static global supply. For the past decade, total oil exports have been on a slight downward slope, which will increase as oil from the many production projects cancelled since 2014 fails to appear in the world’s supply. For better or worse Tillerson certainly understands all this, and so therefore does Trump. Hence his choice of Perry, to clear the way.
“Trump’s picks for Energy, State, and the EPA tell us that he wants the US to “drill, baby, drill,” environment be damned. Even so, given the fragility of the world’s economies with respect to the high oil prices necessary to unlock new production, and the paucity of “low-hanging fruit,” it will be difficult to surpass the current rate of US – and global – oil production. Trump and Perry will fail to make the US self-sufficient in oil, absent a massive conservation program that eliminates more than half of today’s demand, a laughable prospect.
“There can be no doubt that Trump’s energy policies will lead directly to economic and environmental disaster, and will be a disaster for DOE as well. Even so, how greatly different, in its bones, is this from the course laid out by the Obama administration? When reforms fail, and truth is suppressed, disaster will come, sooner or later.
“DOE is also struggling in its $350 billion cleanup program, the remaining cost of which is increasing, not decreasing. Its fusion research is always three decades from any practical application. Its surplus plutonium disposition program is failing. Its nuclear weapons labs are riddled with fiscal waste and mismanagement. Their maintenance backlog is growing. One of them – Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) – sent a reactive drum of nuclear waste to the nation’s only operating underground disposal site, shutting it down for at least two years and clouding its future. DOE’s science labs provide jobs for scientists, but at what cost and with what benefit to society? Should those science dollars be spent in universities, perhaps, where they would train so many more of tomorrow’s scientists than they do at present?
“It will not hurt the United States to have a debate about these questions. Meanwhile Rick Perry is likely to be a wrecking ball."