Secretary of Energy Rick Perry joined me this morning to discuss President Trump’s State of the Union address:
DT: My administration has cut more regulations in a short period of time than any other administration during its entire tenure. Companies are coming back to our country in large numbers thanks to our historic reductions in taxes and regulations. And we have unleashed a revolution in American energy. The United States is now the number one producer of oil and natural gas anywhere in the world. And now, for the first time in 65 years, we are a net exporter of energy.
HH: It is amazing to me that Democrats did not applaud. I am joined now by the United States Secretary of Energy, Rick Perry. Secretary Perry, welcome back, it’s always a pleasure to have you on the Hugh Hewitt Show.
RP: Hey, Hugh Hewitt, awesome to be with you, brother. That was a great, incredible speech last night. And you know, obviously the President understands the importance of what’s happened in the United States in the energy sector over the course of the last decade, and particularly the last two years. You realize in two years ago, we were exporting LNG to 19 countries. Today, 33 countries are getting shipments of American LNG. I mean, this is some stunning movement. And you talk about the leverage that the United States has from a national security and a global security standpoint, energy is right at the epicenter of it. So you’re absolutely correct to focus on that. Big news last night from the President.
HH: I say energy is freedom, and freedom is energy. And I can remember Jimmy Carter and every president since talking about what I used to laugh at, the idea of American energy independence, and the idea that we would become a net exporter. That was just a pipe dream. That was a myth. That was a happy tale we told ourselves when we stood in gas lines in 1978. And now, it’s real, Rick Perry. And the Democrats didn’t applaud.
RP: But Hugh, Hugh, think about it. Within the last three years, the President of the United States stood up and said, well, and I’m talking about Barack Obama here, we’re not going to be able to drill ourselves out of this problem we’ve got. We’re not going to be able to develop enough energy to get out of this problem, so just get used to it, America. This is where you’re going to be. And facing the reality that he had to know, that America did have the potential, you just had to have the regulations get out of the way, government get out of the way, let the private sector go do what it does so well. And President Donald Trump has basically said to America that we’re going to develop our oil and gas resources. We’re going to develop our fossil fuels, our nuclear energy. We’re going to have a portfolio of energy, renewables included in this. But the United States is, you know, what the President said, the world’s second-highest producer of wind energy and solar generation. And under my leadership, he said, domestic generation of solar and wind are going to continue to rise. And the Democrats can’t find something good to proclaim? Come on now.
RP: This is a great story about what’s happening in America. This is unleashing American innovation. It is putting America in a place from a security standpoint, energy security standpoint, that I’m not sure in our history we’ve ever been in a more powerful position than we are today thanks to the Congress that worked with this president over the last two years to free us from the regulation, to open up markets around the world. It is, we are sitting in a great place, and American energy is right at the epicenter of it.
HH: And I’ve got to add about nuclear, last time you were on the program, I talked to you about the fact that we had completely shut down uranium enrichment in the United States. But last month, your department took a big step towards reversing that dire situation. You have announced the intention to move ahead with a demo project in the great state of Ohio to enrich fuel for advanced nuclear reactors. That’s part of our strategy, right? How crucial is that?
RP: Well, it’s very important. We don’t want to just basically cede the field to the Russians and the Chinese, and that’s, you know, that’s the option. From the standpoint of just saying you know, we’re just going to walk away from the civil nuclear energy business, and Hugh, here’s what we have to keep in mind. If we lose this supply chain, if we lose this intellectual capital that comes from training up the next generation of nuclear engineers, of young men and women who can lead us forward with these advanced reactors, then at some point in time, the ability to have a nuclear program that keeps us safe is put in jeopardy. So this isn’t just about the ability to have civil nuclear programs in the United States, and to be the world’s leader when it comes to developing nuclear technology. This is also about America being able to continue to have the intellect and the programs in place to keep us safe from our weapons program.
HH: And by the way, this is why the GDP is taking off, is there are so many actions that don’t make it into the State of the Union like your enrichment demo project. They can’t. I mean, they can’t make it in the State of the Union, but they’re going on in your department all the time. I’ve got to finish with one, one quick question, though. They found the largest deposit ever of oil in Texas, right, the largest ever?
RP: Well, the Permian basin is now, I think, the second-largest oil field in the world. And number one is either the country of Saudi Arabia or Russia. So this kind of puts it in perspective. They’re the third-largest, second-largest, rather, oil field in the world, is in the United States. And when you add all the others, you know, whether it’s the Hainesville over in Louisiana and Texas, the Barnett Shale up in Fort Worth, you go to the Bakken, you go to the Marcellus in Pennsylvania, I mean, what a blessing this country has of these resources. And it’s because of American innovation. Hydraulic fracturing, directional drilling, and freeing that. So again, I can’t tell you how excited I was last night to get to watch the President call on Congress to continue this type of support, to build the infrastructure in this country that’s going to need to move this oil and gas around, to continue to put America in an incredibly powerful place to effect world affairs.
HH: It is wonderful what’s, I do have a question of, you were a governor for 14 years, and it was Abbott who found the new oil, so I’ve just got to say…
RP: (laughing) Hey, listen, I’m happy to pass around the cred in Texas. We’ve had a good go of it. And Governor Abbott’s doing a fabulous job of leading the state and continuing to keep the regulations low and the taxes low. And my bet is that the Governor’s probably going to be coming over to California from time to time to…
HH: Oh, my gosh, just like you used to. Sticky Fingers Perry is what I call you. You come over and take…but my last question is the President saluted freedom in Venezuela. We don’t care that they’re going to compete against us. They’ve got lots of oil, too. All good. We don’t care that they’re going to compete against us. We want freedom more than we want monopoly. And I just was stunned that the Democrats didn’t stand up and applaud for Venezuela, Rick Perry.
RP: Yeah, listen, here was the interesting thing for me, Hugh, is I think the Democrats went to the House floor last night with the intention of sitting on their hands and frowning at the President on everything that he said. And they did that a number of times. But they also stood and applauded, I mean, how long has it been since you watched the State of the Union when they’re singing happy birthday and they’re dancing and they’re clapping. And I mean, that was from the Democrats last night.
RP: I think America got to see a president who has the ability to bring this country together, to get Democrats to stand up, to clap, to say you know, we agree with you in these things you’re saying. So certainly a good first step, in my opinion, to bring this country together, to focus on not just the energy industry, the infrastructure of this country. I mean, he talked about a broad swathe, a broad brush approach, if you will, to continue to grow the economy for Americans to feel really good about where this country’s going, to secure our southern border, work together to keep the drugs from flowing into this country, to stop the illegal activities on the southern border. I think the President last night took a powerful step towards healing some of the wounds that have been out there and bringing this country together in a way that will be good for the next generation of Americans.
HH: Agree 100%. And the all of the above strategy is really paying off with the jobs numbers. Secretary Perry, you’re doing a great job at DOE. Keep doing it. Thanks for coming on. Keep coming back.
RP: God bless you, brother. Take care of yourself. Come and see us.
HH: Be well, Governor.
End of interview.