Perry’s ‘winners and losers’ comment sparks pushback

Source: Christa Marshall, E&E News reporter • Posted: Thursday, August 16, 2018

Energy Secretary Rick Perry’s comments yesterday about the government picking “winners and losers” has prompted charges of flip-flopping.

Appearing at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Perry said governments have been picking winners and losers since government was created.

“We do it by tax policy, we do it by regulations, we do it by permits. Pick good! Be smart!” he said, according to video of the event posted on Twitter. “Use the right kind of technical people to help you decide where to invest, and pick winners, and pick ’em good and pick ’em right. Government is going to continue to do that.”

Perry said he tells people not to use that “throwaway line” on winners and losers.

Perry appeared with Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Colo.). His comments came as part of a discussion on how DOE could partner with the private sector and universities and move technologies to commercialization. Perry has visited multiple national labs, which he frequently calls “crown jewels,” and pushed for new initiatives on supercomputing, batteries and other technologies.

In a statement, the Sierra Club’s Jonathan Levenshus charged that Perry was embracing his “inner hypocrite,” considering comments Perry made in 2010 when governor of Texas. He wrote in his book “Fed Up!” — highlighted on National Public Radio at the time — that the federal government has the arrogance to preach about how people should live their lives.

“We are fed up with tax credits that amount to pure giveaways to certain citizens at the expense of others — the government picking winners and losers based on circumstance and luck with no real benefit to the economy,” Perry said then.

Levenshus said, “It’s clear that Perry doesn’t stand for any particular principle on market regulation.”

The comments also split from conservative supporters of the Trump administration who have justified proposed budget cuts to the Department of Energy as part of a need to move away from picking “winners and losers.”

DOE did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

At the event, Perry said NREL would play “a very important role” in ensuring that the grid is more secure from natural disasters, cyberattacks and other threats.

“This lab is going to play a monumental role,” he said. Public and private partnerships will be critical for that, he said.

Trump’s proposed budget for fiscal 2019 would cut the Office of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy, which provides the majority of funding for NREL, by more than half.