Rick Perry.png

Secretary of Energy-designate Rick Perry


By Peter Z. Grossman, Professor of economics at Butler University.


“When former Texas governor Rick Perry ran for president in 2012, he promised he’d abolish the U.S. Department of Energy (at least when he could remember it)

Why would anyone want to abolish the DOE? . . . The DOE was conceived in dark and pessimistic beliefs and forecasts that have proven totally wrong. As Obama might say, the DOE is on the wrong side of history. . .

The original legislation justified a Department of Energy because:

1) we were rapidly running out of fossil fuels, especially oil and natural gas;

2) as a consequence of this we were becoming increasingly dependent on energy imports — dependence that made us vulnerable to embargoes and political blackmail; and

3) so therefore we needed “a strong national [read government-directed] energy program.”

Even before fracking proved the dire warnings to be utterly wrong, we had for the most part taken care of our energy dependence. We significantly reduced any possible vulnerability to an embargo by diversifying our suppliers. . .

In the meantime, we’ve endured wasteful, panicked policies such as massive subsidies for the wind and solar power, and electric cars. Worst of all, Congress has saddled consumers with ethanol subsidies and mandates. These boondoggles cost us billions of dollars, and none of them are commercially viable in their own right. In fact, the . . . only energy breakthrough of the last four decades has been fracking. . .

With the fears of foreign energy or energy shortages waning in 2009, President Obama sought to gin up a sense of crisis over climate change. . . Just as many experts began to downplay the catastrophe rhetoric, the president overplayed it. . . He chose to impose energy legislation through the DOE and the EPA with, as he said, “a pen and … a phone.”

The Trump administration can undo or minimize much of the DOE’s Obama-era legislating on energy.

Many would argue that the DOE does some good, even essential work. It watches over nuclear waste, for example. And there is some useful research and development going on at many of the DOE laboratories. But any valuable work done by the DOE could be carved off into independent agencies (FERC, NRC, ERDA, etc.)

Overall, the rationale for the DOE needs to be rethought and restated in ways that make it sensible for the 21st century. . . If the Trump administration can’t articulate a good reason for the continued existence of the DOE, then we should follow Gov. Perry’s inclination and abolish it. 


Actually, I’d like BOTH DoEs to be abolished as wasteful, counterproductive, and not authorized by the Constitution. I’m just sick and tired of carrying the weight of the Administrative State! (THANKS, Woodrow Wilson, NOT!!!)

Categories: Political

3 replies

  1. Great post, Curtis.

    I was never a fan of Rick Perry for POTUS and his ironic agreement to head up the DOE is a vindication of that, IMHO. I will humbly stand corrected if Governor Perry does the right thing and makes it his mission to use his term to wind down this unnecessary and unduly powerful agency and then recommends that it be abolished, but I won’t hold my breath. This is going to be a test of who the real Rick Perry is.

    Perry as head of the DOE is like Trump as president: it’s a great improvement over what was just there but it’s bittersweet because it could have been so much better.


  2. So now, instead of Rick Perry as president and abolishing the DOE, he’ll now head the agency. The question is will he manage to abolish or to continue operating? I’m thinking he goes for the latter – why work toward killing what looks to be a fairly cushy job?


    • That just seems so … wrong. Why would Perry who once believed that we didn’t need a DOE now agree to head it up? I can only think of two reasons: one, that he will remodel it to dump the Obama-era operations and create an entity that will support our search for and implementation of new energy sources – or two, he just wants a cushy job. I wish I knew the answer – but stay tuned, the answer will come just after “these messages.”


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