Rick Perry is a big tent guy when it comes to energy, be it natural gas, oil, coal or renewables, and the Department of Energy (DOE) secretary is all ears to hear more about the proposed Green New Deal legislation now sparking bipartisan criticism, he said Wednesday.
The former governor of Texas was in Houston to speak at CERAWeek by IHS Markit, one of several officials in the Trump administration to join the marquee event, including Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Chairman Neil Chatterjee.
Perry, who in his college days at Texas A&M University was a yell leader, shared the same exuberance for every type of domestic energy resource and all types of innovation before a standing room only audience.
An all-of-the-above approach will help to sustain the dawning era of “American energy dominance,” he said. Even “having a conversation about the Green New Deal is a good thing…” The House-led nonbinding legislation, already considered dead on arrival, still requires an appraisal “in a thoughtful and a polite and a respectful way...
"Just because someone doesn't agree with what I believe in, or I don't agree with their take, doesn't mean we don't need to continue to have a conversation...I think it's wise to have those."
The fact remains that in 2040, “70% of the earth’s electricity is still going to be produced by fossil fuels.”
To help reduce emissions, Perry pointed to the role that natural gas exports worldwide, along with carbon capture technology, can play. He also supports wind energy, which has become a larger component of the energy supply in fossil fuel-rich Texas.
“When I was governor of this state, I had the best job in the world. Now, as Secretary of Energy, I have the coolest job, which comes with a front-row seat to some of the most astonishing examples of cutting-edge innovation.”
Having seen some of these “modern miracles,” he said, “I believe we must reaffirm innovation as the great engine of progress which offers wondrous choices and opportunities, here in the U.S. and across the globe,” which have, among other things, “assisted the shale gas revolution.”
The nation is “approaching the dawn of what I will call the New American Energy Era, an era of vastly improved energy choice for the world, where we embrace new and smarter ways to reach our energy and our environmental goals. The signs of this new era are everywhere.”
Over the past two years, Perry said, U.S. solar energy has expanded by almost 90%, and innovation has done the same for wind power, which this year is expected to exceed hydropower generation for the first time ever.
We’re No. 1, Says Former Yell Leader
Last year, the United States became the No. 1 natural gas producer. “Now we’re the world’s No. 1 oil producer as well. And between now and 2025, the United States will contribute an estimated one-half of the world’s growth in oil and gas production.”
Perry noted he was on hand when ExxonMobil Corp. and Qatar Petroleum recent announced they would proceed with the $10 billion-plus Golden Pass liquefied natural gas (LNG) export terminal in Texas.
“This one investment alone has the ability to generate nearly $35 billion in economic gains over the life of the project and is expected to create over 45,000 direct and indirect jobs.
“And we have a number of other projects coming online that will increase our LNG export capacity by 150% over last year, with three projects already operating and three new projects expected to begin exporting later this year.”
The United States now is exporting LNG to 34 countries on five continents, Perry noted.
“Thanks to innovation, we have more than enough energy to share with the world, and with it comes freedom of choice for energy consumers everywhere, including places where it had never existed.”
For countries now able to access U.S. energy, “choice means this: if they were bound to just one nation for their energy needs, they are bound no more. If they were restricted to just one energy source for those needs, they are restricted no more.”
The United States wants other countries to benefit from the innovative technology that unleashed the energy abundance, said Perry.
“What we offer is true energy choice, borne out of innovation and marked by diversity of supply of nations providing that supply and of routes to deliver that supply. And across the world energy choice will strengthen energy security, economic security and national security.”
Perry, like Pompeo at CERAWeek, took a few minutes to discuss how U.S. energy production provides security not only at home but for allies abroad.
“The United States supports competitive markets, the rule of law and the sanctity of contracts,” Perry said. “We uphold the transparency of energy deals and oppose using energy to coerce any nation.”
For example, the United States is opposed, he said, to the construction of Russia’s Nord Stream 2 and Turkish Stream (TurkStream) natural gas pipelines underway in Europe. TurkStream is a project of Russia's Gazprom, while Nord Stream is a joint venture between Gazprom and OMV AG, Engie,Uniper SE and Wintershall Holding GmbH and Royal Dutch Shell plc.
In January, the U.S. ambassador to Germany reportedly warned the country that companies working on Nord Stream could be subject to sanctions.
“In my travels abroad,” said Perry, “the discussion equating energy security with national security is especially welcomed.” He pointed to the recently launched Partnership for Transatlantic Energy Cooperation, or PTEC, designed to build upon European alliances to advance economic prosperity “by strengthening energy security and promoting open, competitive and transparent trade.”
PTEC held its first meeting Thursday in Houston, where Perry met with member nations to advance their agenda.
Regarding the “clean” energy movement to reduce greenhouse emissions, Perry said he was “delighted there is a newfound passion in many corners for pursuing cleaner energy. And while it might be easy to call someone a critic because we don’t agree on a cause or share the same approach to solving a challenge, I prefer to call them a competitor.
“That’s because I believe that when competing ideas are discussed and debated, we open the door to progress...I am constantly amazed by the lack of discussion around the progress already being made. We need more open and candid discussion.
“We need a healthy competition of ideas on energy and the environment instead of banning certain ideas simply because they don’t fit someone’s narrative. And as part of that discussion, we need to face reality.”
Perry said “science and evidence” need to be embraced, not rejected, regarding technologies that drive down emissions, or in the case of nuclear energy, don’t produce any.
Perry said “energy independence” once was a “sound bite. Now it’s a reality. Curtailing it would erase today’s great economic gains and environmental achievements, while limiting tomorrow’s innovative solutions to our biggest challenges.”
The DOE chief said if the country continues to be inclusive and not exclusive regarding its energy options, “this new American energy era will move forward, bringing unprecedented benefit to the world and unleashing greater innovation than ever...for generations to come.”