Secretary of Energy Rick Perry focused primarily on his record as Texas governor when speaking to a crowd of business owners Wednesday in Kansas City.
Perry, who served as governor of Texas from late 2000 to early 2015, boasted that the state’s population grew by 7 million people during his tenure.
“That’s a lot of pickup trucks,” he said during his remarks at the Department of Energy’s Small Business Forum and Expo at the Sheraton Kansas City Hotel at Crown Center.
Perry called being governor the best job he’s ever had and credited the population and job growth that took place during his tenure to the state’s commitment to low taxes and loose regulations. He said that Texas should serve as a model to the rest of the country and to the world.
“We created more jobs than any other state in the nation during the period I was governor. And I was proud to be a part of that. Understanding that government doesn’t create jobs, but government can affect whether you can create a job or not,” Perry said.
Perry said President Donald Trump’s administration has a similar mentality.
“Our role is not just to be up here as some big brother, if you will, overseeing and taxing and regulating and litigating and whatever else government thinks they need to be doing,” Perry said.
Perry expanded on this point in an interview after the speech. “If you’ve got regulations in place that are killing jobs, killing opportunities, then President Trump has clearly said, ‘Get ’em gone,’ ” he said.
Trump issued an executive order in late March that relaxes emissions standards and lifts a moratorium on coal mining on federally owned lands.
“I’m sure that over the course of the last 30 years, there’s probably still some regulations on the book that we need to analyze that if they went away, Americans would not miss them,” Perry said when asked whether there were more energy-related regulations that the administration would seek to undo.
Perry wanted to get rid of the Department of Energy as a presidential candidate in 2012 and famously forgot the name of the agency during a televised debate, but after 2 1/2 months in the job, Perry said that he’s received daily reminders of the importance of the agency, which manages the country’s nuclear arsenal, enforces efficiency standards and oversees the U.S. electric grid.
“After getting a deep dive on the department, it’s clear that I had a misconception about the Department of Energy. And actually as every day goes by, the depth and breadth of the effect of the Department of Energy is impressed upon me in some way,” Perry said in an interview with The Star after the speech.
Perry said that cybersecurity would be a major priority of the agency under his tenure to ensure the integrity of the country’s electrical grid.
The former Texas governor faced questions about his qualifications, particularly his understanding of nuclear energy, when Trump tapped him for the role. Perry’s immediate predecessor, Ernest Moniz, was a nuclear physicist who headed the physics department at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and held multiple science-related roles in the federal government before being named secretary in 2013.
Asked whether he has grown more comfortable with the nuclear side of the job, Perry replied that his job is a management position.
“If you want a secretary of energy who knows how to build an atomic bomb, I’m probably not your guy,” Perry said. “But if you want someone who can manage a fairly nice-sized entity, then I had 14 years of experience in the 12th largest economy in the world and did arguably a pretty good job of that.”