Pressed on budget, Perry talks ‘fiduciary responsibility’

Source: Christa Marshall, E&E News reporter • Posted: Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Energy Secretary Rick Perry told lawmakers he’s committed to the United States being a leader in clean energy technology despite President Trump’s announcement to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement.

It was one of the few times that climate change came up in the first two hours of a House Appropriations subcommittee hearing to examine DOE’s $28 billion budget request for fiscal 2018. Perry said he delivered Trump’s message on the Paris Agreement to the world during a visit to China last week.

He didn’t initially mention his comments yesterday that carbon dioxide is not the primary driver of climate change (Greenwire, June 19).

Perry also offered few promises to lawmakers who repeatedly asked about planned budget cuts that could affect projects in their districts.

The budget request proposes to slash funding at nuclear, fossil, renewable and efficiency programs by 30 to 70 percent, and it calls for eliminating programs like the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy (Greenwire, May 23).

“This budget proposal makes some difficult choices,” Perry said. “It is paramount that we execute our fiduciary responsibility to the American taxpayer.”

When pressed by Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D-Ohio) about plans to eliminate the Weatherization Assistance Program, Perry said, “This is the first step in a long process.”

His experience as a Texas governor taught him that budgets “don’t always come back to you the way they start,” he said to Kaptur.

Perry vowed that no national laboratories would be “shut down” and said he was confident that the labs — which he called national treasures — would function at a level that Americans “need and deserve.”

Perry added there is a “moral obligation” to advance the long-stalled Yucca Mountain, Nev., nuclear repository project.

When pressed by subcommittee Chairman Mike Simpson (R-Idaho) on whether anything could be done now to stand up Yucca before the budget is passed, Perry replied, “We have some funds available to do that.”