Rick Perry regrets calling for the elimination of the U.S. Department of Energy, which he has been chosen to lead, now that he understands what it does.
The former Texas governor infamously forgot to identify the department as one of three he wanted to cut — along with Commerce and Education — if elected president, during a 2011 Republican primary debate.
He also apparently misunderstood the Energy Department’s role after Donald Trump nominated him to serve as its secretary.
Perry initially believed he would serve as a global ambassador for the American oil and gas industry — a role he gladly embraced.
But Perry soon learned that, if he was confirmed by the Senate, he would actually oversee a vast national security complex and nuclear arsenal he knew almost nothing about.
“It’s been a learning curve,” said Michael McKenna, a Republican energy lobbyist who has advised Perry’s 2016 presidential campaign and worked for a brief time on the Trump transition team.
When his confirmation hearing begins Thursday, Perry will reportedly walk back his past statements calling for the elimination of the department, as well as his many previous comments questioning the science of climate change.
“My past statements made over five years ago about abolishing the Department of Energy do not reflect my current thinking,” Perry will tell the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. “In fact, after being briefed on so many of the vital functions of the Department of Energy, I regret recommending its elimination.”
Perry will reportedly say that he believes the climate is changing, but he won’t go so far as to say that those changes are related to human activity.
“I believe some of it is naturally occurring, but some of it is also caused by manmade activity,” Perry will say. “The question is how do we address it in a thoughtful way that doesn’t compromise economic growth, the affordability of energy, or American jobs.”