Rick Perry appeared before the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources on Thursday morning. In his hearing he stated he did regret statements from five years ago, when he suggested closing the Department of Energy, the department President-elect Donald Trump nominated him to lead. Perry said his past statements did not reflect his current thinking. He also confirmed that he has gained an insight into many important functions of the Departments, he regretted the past statements.
Perry also touched, for Republicans, sensitive issue of man-made climate change, saying that humans did play a role and that the administration’s challenge is to decide which policies were the best to tackle this issue without hurting growth. This is a stark contrast to the president-elect himself, who claimed there is no evidence of climate change, saying that “nobody really knows” if it’s real.
Perry was also questioned about the questionnaire distributed by Trump’s transition team that required a list of names of individuals who work in the Department of Energy and deal with climate change research. the move was seen as a witch-hunt against scientists who support the thesis that climate change is caused by humans. Later, the transition team distanced itself from the questionnaire. Perry noted he did not approve such method, stating he was not nominated for the position in Energy Department at that time. Perry also assured the Committee that he would keep Lt. Gen. G. Klotz who heads Department’s National Nuclear Security Administration.
Perry, who stopped competing for the president position in September 2015 was initially not a supporter of Donald Trump. He saw Trump as a celebrity who is ignoring conservative principles. This is why his nomination came as a surprise. However, Perry, being a Texas governor does have background that may help him run the Department of energy efficiently. He was overseeing rapid expansion of gas and oil infrastructure in his own state. And while being supporter of fossil fuels, his infrastructure investments also heavily supported the investment into solar and wind power in Texas.
Perry was a rising Republican star in 2012, however he lost that clout in 2012. His presidential bid also failed in 2015. This position gives him a new boost on the federal level. He has experience, and has shown much better impression before the committee than other Trump nominees that mostly came off as rich donors and not true politicians with the drive to run respective departments. Environmental groups, however, are less enthralled by his nomination. They mostly see him as someone who has supported fracking thereby causing significant environmental damage.