Rick Perry Says ‘Clean’ Coal Will Shape America’s Energy Future

REUTERS/Carlos Barria

George Congdon Contributor
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Secretary of Energy Rick Perry emphasized in a recent interview that clean coal will highlight his energy agenda, utilizing American innovation to pursue cleaner, cheaper coal while creating jobs in the process.

The Washington Examiner sat down with Perry this week at the National Energy Technology Laboratory in a suburb of Pittsburgh.

Perry toured the lab the day prior, and lauded its initiatives of horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing for natural gas in shale. The NETL lab is one of 17 laboratories nationwide that receive government funding. The Pittsburgh location is the only lab that is managed completely by the federal government.

The former Republican presidential contender weighed in on upcoming projects to create jobs while simultaneously making energy cheaper, cleaner and more accessible. Perry was asked about innovative “cracker plants,” or energy plants that crack molecules in natural gas to make byproducts such as ethane and ethylene.

“If you just took that gas and burned it at a power plant, it’s sort of like cooking your breakfast using $100 bills. It will cook your breakfast, but it’s a pretty expensive way to do it,” the secretary said. “But if you take that gas, process it, crack it, send different streams different ways to be used in a lot of valued-added processing, that can happen right here in this region. So, one job becomes 10 jobs. And those are high-value jobs.”

Perry also defended the Trump administration’s endorsement of coal initiatives, despite concerns over climate change. He believes that clean coal is not only pragmatic, but will become commonplace.

He recently toured West Virginia’s Longview Power Plant, which says it is one of the most efficient coal-fired power plants in the U.S.

“Walking through the plant in Longview — it’s a highly efficient, low-emission plant — and is using tons of coal to create electrical power. It’s pulverizing that coal into like talcum powder. I literally wiped my hand across the first floor of this plant, and it looks like my hand looks right now wiping it across this tabletop. Totally clean. That is the innovation that we’ve come to expect in America,” Perry said.

Finally, Secretary Perry addressed the bombshell decision by President Donald Trump several weeks ago to withdraw from the Paris Climate Accord. He responded to the tremendous opposition from Democrats, and talked about some of the benefits of withdrawal.

“I’m not sure this is ever going to be an absolute black and/or white issue. … I hope we can have an open, thoughtful conversation with people on both sides of this as we go forward and agree that we’re making great progress. America has reduced its emissions more than any country out there from the standpoint of a percentage,” answered Perry.

The secretary of energy was optimistic about the future of American energy, and excited about technological innovations that will help the United States lead the world in addressing the challenge of creating clean energy jobs and mitigating carbon emissions.

He closed out the interview saying, “I happen to think that Donald Trump is about shaking up, if you will, going outside the norms of what we’ve historically seen. I think he’s going to be very successful.”