Rick Perry, the former Republican Governor of Texas, has been nominated by Donald Trump to head the U.S. Department of Energy. During the 2011 CNBC Republican presidential candidate debate Perry was listing three Federal agencies that he would eliminate were he to become president. Perry said that he would get rid of the Department of Education, and Department of Commerce, but then he faltered, forgetting the third agency he would put on the chopping block. Fellow Republican presidential hopeful Rep. Ron Paul tried to help him out by suggesting that he should eliminate the Environmental Protection Agency. Perry responded that the EPA needed reform, but that it wasn't the one on his list. Some fifteen minutes later, Perry recalled the agency he'd close down: the Department of Energy.
The Washington Post notes that environmental activists take a dim view of Perry:
"There is no doubt that Rick Perry is completely unfit to run an agency he sought to eliminate – and couldn't even name. Perry is a climate change denier, opposes renewable energy even as it has boomed in Texas, and doesn't even believe CO2 is a pollutant," said League of Conservation Voters Gene Karpinski in a statement. "Not only that, he is deep in the pocket of Big Polluters, who have contributed over $2.5 million to his presidential campaigns, a disturbing sign that they expected him to protect their profits in office, not do what's best for the American people."
The Department of Energy dispenses about $30 billion in various energy subsidies annually. Perry could seek to rollback the new energy efficiency standards for appliances that the DOE is trying to rush through before the end of President Obama's term. In addition, the DOE has promoted the climate change agenda of the Obama administration. A recent questionnaire asking, among other things, which DOE staffers participated in climate change programs and how the costs of solar and wind power are calculated by the Energy Information Administration sent a chill through the agency.
About 60 percent of the DOE's budget is allocated to overseeing our country's nuclear weapons stockpile. One really useful thing that Perry and the Trump administration could do is lift President Obama's moratorium on completing the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste storage facility. Will Secretary of Energy Perry try to put himself out of job? Doubtful, but it will be interesting to see if he will reform the agency to create a level energy playing field, or end up substituting fossil fuel crony capitalism for Obama's renewable energy crony capitalism.