Rick Perry, who brought his years of experience as a book salesman to the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) to oversee our nuclear weapons, has resigned. In his outgoing tweet yesterday, he wrote that he was proud to make the United States “the number one oil- and gas-producing country in the world.” That’s not an accomplishment. It’s the result of drilling for oil where his predecessors refused or were prohibited, and other countries turning away from fossil fuels as they shift toward sustainable energy sources.
Fortunately, Perry didn’t abolish the DOE, a goal he announced during the 2016 presidential campaign. Energy use contributes to climate change more than any other source, but that reality didn’t cause Perry to work on improving it. Instead, his proposal to eliminate the DOE intended to let companies operate in a regulation-free environment.
He leaves behind a legacy of abuse of our parks, oceans, wildlife, and marine life. Fortunately, he failed to prop up the coal industry despite his best efforts. Coal companies continue to decline even though Trump promised he would bring them back like never before. Perry also reduced requirements for more efficient lighting and appliances and tried to give companies the ability to test their products for energy efficiency rather than rely on an objective third-party.
Perry, a member of the infamous Three Amigos, managed to embroil himself in the Ukraine scandal before leaving, so he’ll remain in the news. Like Zinke, Pruitt, and the rest of the corporate shills in the Trump administration, he was who we thought he was.