An Open Letter to Rick Perry

Sean Brodrick By Sean Brodrick,

Oil & Gas

Dear Rick Perry:

Congratulations on being Trump’s pick for secretary of energy. Coming from the great state of Texas, where energy is a focus, you are well-suited for the job. I’m sure you’re going to do great.

That said, I wanted to give you my “wish list” of things you might do in your new post.

First, let’s deal with the fact that, during a presidential debate in 2011, you tried to name Energy as a department you would eliminate as president. But then you forgot the name of the Energy Department. A lot of people kid you about that. But you have my sympathy.

Heck, everyone gets brain cramps. If it makes you feel any better, I’ve temporarily forgotten the names of blood relatives. In my defense, I come from a large Irish family.

Anyway, I know why you wanted to eliminate the Energy Department. You were frustrated by the fact that the U.S. didn’t have a real energy policy. Now you can change that.

Texas Leads Fracking Revolution

As governor of Texas, you encouraged energy companies to invest in fracking. Your state led the charge on the fracking that revolutionized America’s oil and gas fields. This was partly due to your incentives.

Under your leadership, Texas created an exemption for high-cost natural gas wells. I won’t go too deep into the math. But in some cases, it eliminated the 7.5% severance tax normally applied to Texas gas production.

Considering all the other money that oil and gas drillers poured into the state as they fracked those wells, giving up that slice of tax money was a good investment. Along with higher energy production, the experience helped drillers learn how to lower their costs. Everybody won on that one.

At the same time, you signed the first law in the nation to require drilling companies to disclose the chemicals used in the fracking process. Kudos on that. One way to deal with people’s fears is to bring everything out in the open.

I know that you want to work toward American energy independence, a vision you share with the president-elect. And every extra barrel of oil and cubic foot of gas America pumps loosens the grip the OPEC cartel has on global energy prices.

So my first wish is that you come up with a real energy policy to open the taps on made-in-the-USA energy production even wider.

Solar and Wind, Too!

You’re big on renewables, too. When you campaigned for president, you pushed bigger incentives for electric and hybrid vehicles.

That’s not all. Many people don’t know this, but Texas produces the largest amount of wind power in America.

Just look at how Texas’ wind power has grown and will continue to grow.

You showed leadership during a crucial time when wind generation threatened to overwhelm your state’s transmission lines.

Specifically, you forged a coalition of Republicans and Democrats to tackle the problem. And that’s why Texas invested $7 billion in new infrastructure to transmit more than 18,000 megawatts of power from the wind farms to city power grids.

You also made sure that a big chunk of the equipment used to manufacture wind power is made in Texas.

You’re big on solar, too. Texas hit 685 megawatts of solar in 2016, according to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas. That’s way up from less than 300 megawatts in 2015. Nice!

So my second wish is that you keep pushing renewables as secretary of energy.

Nuclear and Coal

Like Trump, you’re pro-nuclear power. According to the conservative energy group ClearPath Foundation, your stance is that the federal government must remove barriers to investment in new nuclear power plants.

And nuclear power is a huge part of the secretary of energy’s responsibility. About 40% of the Department of Energy’s budget is spent on designing, maintaining and testing nuclear weapons. Another 20% is earmarked for handling nuclear waste and cleaning up the problems caused by weapons programs of the Cold War era.

My wish is you find a safer way to store nuclear waste. Also, we need better ways to protect nuclear plants from terrorist attacks and natural disasters. So work on that, please.

Like President-elect Trump, you’re pro-coal. Specifically, you want to explore “clean coal.” In fact, you signed House Bill 469, which includes incentives for clean coal technology breakthroughs.

With respect, Rick, I believe clean coal is a pipe dream.

Heck, the price of solar is falling so far, so fast, that it’s already cheaper than coal in some parts of the world. And the global average cost of solar may fall below the cost of coal within 10 years.

Now combine that with the fact that pollution from coal kills about 5.5 million people globally per year. To me, the choice seems clear.

A Bright Future

My final wish, Rick, is that you focus on the future of energy. I know you favor an “all of the above” strategy. But some choices are better for our children.

I’m an investor, and I think investors could do very well with you as Energy Secretary. Potential winners include oil and gas drillers, pipeline companies, nuclear power builders and utilities, and lithium and electric vehicle companies. And even coal companies, if that’s the path you follow.

The future is yours to shape. The next four to eight years could be amazing. I know you’re the man to do it. Good luck, Rick Perry. I’m pulling for you.

All the best,

Sean