Guffaws follow Perry’s ‘little economics lesson’

Source: Hannah Northey and Christa Marshall, E&E News reporters • Posted: Friday, July 7, 2017

Energy Secretary Rick Perry today drew online barbs and jeers and lit up Twitter over comments he made during his first official visit to West Virginia to tour a coal plant.

Perry, flanked by Mountain State lawmakers while walking through the 700-megawatt Longview Power coal-fired plant in Maidsville, W.Va., was quoted as saying, “Here’s a little economics lesson: supply and demand. You put the supply out there and the demand will follow.”

Reaction to the comment, retweeted more than 2,400 times, was swift.

“Tell that to my warehouse filled with fidget spinners in 12 months,” said one Twitter user.

“This isn’t how the economic theory of supply-and-demand works, for coal or anything else. If it was, we’d all be drinking New Coke while watching the sixth season of Smash,” wrote one reporter for the news outlet Axios.

Some reporters speculated Perry was referring to French economist Jean-Baptiste Say’s theory that production is the source of demand. “Sigh. I think he means the much-controverted ‘Say’s Law,'” wrote James Fallows, a correspondent for The Atlantic.

Other news outlets turned to the dictionary for help. Supply and demand is “defined in the dictionary as the law that ‘an increase in supply will lower prices if not accompanied by increased demand, and an increase in demand will raise prices unless accompanied by increased supply,'” wrote The Hill.

DOE did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the online uproar.

Perry toured the plant alongside West Virginia Sens. Shelley Moore Capito (R) and Joe Manchin (D), as well as Republican West Virginia Rep. David McKinley. The secretary then traveled to the Morgantown National Energy Technology Laboratory to huddle with executives and tour laboratories there — a priority for Perry since taking office.

“I’m telling you officially the coolest job I’ve ever had is being secretary of Energy … and it’s because of these labs,” he said at the Idaho National Laboratory in May.

Despite Perry’s comments, NETL, specializing in fossil technology, is one of several labs slated for budget cuts under President Trump’s proposed budget.

The administration is proposing to cut its funding by more than half for fiscal 2018, according to a DOE summary.