By Natalia Castro
During the second presidential debate, now President-elect Donald Trump discussed making the nation’s energy sector a priority. Trump laid out a plan to empower energy companies, return energy workers to their job, and explore new, efficient energy sources.
With his latest decision to select former Texas Governor Rick Perry as head of the Department of Energy Trump has taken the crucial step toward increasing production in the American energy sector he has promised the country. Perry will give back energy to the American people.
Trump represents a shift away from the exotic, green energy programs implemented under the Obama administration which prioritize clean energy over efficient and job creating energy options in the petroleum, coal and nuclear industries.
As Jack Gerard, president of the Washington-based American Petroleum Institute representing oil and natural gas companies, explained to Reuters on Dec. 15, “As the former governor of Texas, Rick Perry knows the important impact that energy production has on our nation’s economy. In his new role at the Energy Department, he has the opportunity to encourage increased exports of domestically produced natural gas.”
Rather than seeing the Department of Energy as a tool for regulating energy production, Perry will use the department to fuel energy production in the private sector.
Using his experience and close ties with the Texas oil industry, Perry hopes to recreate the job boom he helped foster through empowering Texas’s oil and gas industries from 2000 to 2015. As energy transition spokesman Sean Spicer reminds us, this is ultimately Trump’s plan, and Perry will be integral in implementing the Trump agenda above all else.
This Trump agenda spans far past oil and gas. The Department of Energy also shares powers including implementation of the Iran Nuclear Deal, and the maintenance and production of the American nuclear supply.
This is critical, because Perry will finally be able to carry out his goal of the completion and utilization of Yucca mountain which President Barack Obama defunded in 2011.
Since 2014, Perry has been fighting to re-establish Yucca mountain and thus, re-establish a nuclear energy option in the United States. Despite a congressional act entitled the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982 directly outlining that the federal government would take possession and provide a disposable solution for all nuclear waste, in 2009 President Obama abandoned the project at Yucca mountain which would act as an ultimate waste zone. After more than $15 billion was spent developing the site, President Obama had the entire project defunded.
Now, American nuclear energy production is at a standstill. In 2014, Perry supported a Texas Commission on Environmental Quality report on nuclear waste disposal. The report outlined options including reopening Yucca Mountain, building a long-term, commercial nuclear fuel reprocessing capability and having multiple disposal options, so that the nation’s nuclear industry is not dependent upon the politics of Nevada.
The report warned, “Early in 2013, the U.S. Department of Energy announced that it was developing a new plan to replace Yucca Mountain — estimating that an HLW disposal solution would not be available until 2048. However, in November 2013, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia determined that the federal government has ‘no credible plan’ to dispose of HLW. 2048, or whatever year Washington forecasts that a solution will be provided, is too long to wait.”
In Texas alone, the delay of opening Yucca Mountain had cost taxpayers more than $700 million.
Perry has also made gas and oil production economically efficient in his home state, and has been eager to pursue new frontiers for energy development. The Obama administration prevented state governors like Perry from bringing national solutions to American energy and job growth to the table, but now all that is changing.
As James Taylor, President of the Spark of Freedom Foundation a leader in affordable energy production research, told Forbes on Dec. 14, “Affordable energy is a powerful economic stimulant. Energy costs are a factor in virtually all goods and services bought and sold in our economy. When energy prices are lower, the costs of producing goods and services are lower, which operates like a tax cut… Benefiting from these pro-energy, pro-growth policies, Texas electricity prices have declined nearly 25 percent since 2008. National electricity prices, by contrast, are higher now than in 2008.”
Trump has made it clear since the beginning that he wanted to revitalize our job market and make America efficient again. And Texas led the nation on energy under Perry’s guidance and saw the economic prosperity it generated, now it is Perry’s turn to show the rest of the country he can do it again.
Natalia Castro is a contributing editor at Americans for Limited Government.