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Trump's Koch-Funded Appointees Continue Ruthless Attack on Clean Energy Growth

By Elliott Negin

When The Washington Post reported earlier this month that President Trump appointed Daniel Simmons to run the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy at the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), the paper called him a "conservative scholar."

Conservative scholar? "Fossil fuel industry propagandist" would have been more accurate.

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GOP Senator, Industry Groups Slam DOE Grid Study as Anti-Renewables

Iowa Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley raised concerns and questions over the upcoming Department of Energy grid study in a letter sent to DOE Sec. Rick Perry Wednesday.

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Rick Perry: Trump Might Seize States' Renewable Energy Goals

By Dave Anderson

Rick Perry said Tuesday that the Trump administration is having "very classified" conversations about preempting state and local support for renewable energy under the pretense of national security.

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Energy.gov Gets Altered, Removes Climate Benefits of Renewables

By now it shouldn't be a surprise that the Trump administration is wiping Obama-era climate initiatives off the Internet.

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Energy Secretary Rick Perry. Photo credit: Flickr

Energy Department Tells Staff to Stop Using Phrase 'Climate Change'

A supervisor at the Department of Energy's Office of International Climate and Clean Energy told staff to stop using the phrases "climate change," "emissions reduction" and "Paris agreement" in any official written communications, according to POLITICO's sources.

The instructions were reportedly given at a Tuesday meeting held shortly after President Trump's latest controversial executive order that reversed Obama-era climate policies.

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While the former Texas governor had a few chuckles, Sanders made clear that the climate crisis is no laughing matter.

Bernie Sanders Skewers Perry for Whitewashing Climate Crisis

By Lauren McCauley

During his confirmation hearing on Thursday, former Texas Gov. Rick Perry was able to laugh off having once called for abolishing the Department of Energy, which he is now poised to lead, but Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) refused to let him get away "sounding like a hung over frat boy," as one observer put it, when speaking about the crisis of climate change.

Sanders repeated Perry's own 2011 statement that he does not believe in global warming that America "should not spend billions of dollars addressing a scientific theory that has not been proven."

"That position is a variance with virtually the entire scientific community that has studied climate change," Sanders observed before asking, "do you still hold the views that you expressed in 2011? ... Do you agree with those scientists that it is absolutely imperative that we transform our energy system away from fossil fuel to energy efficiency so that we can leave this planet in a way that is healthy and habitable for our kids and future generations?"

Perry responded by delivering what The Hill described as Republicans' "new line on climate change."

"I believe the climate is changing," Perry said. "I believe some of it is naturally occurring, but some of it is also caused by manmade activity. The question is how do we address it in a thoughtful way that doesn't compromise economic growth, the affordability of energy or American jobs."

"Governor, I don't mean to be rude," Sanders interrupted. "We are in danger of spending God knows how many billions of dollars to repair the damage done by climate change. Drought is becoming a major crisis, it will impact agriculture in a very significant way."

"Let's get beyond the rhetoric," Sanders continued, "the majority of scientists who study this issue think that climate change is a global crisis. It's not a question of balance this and balance that. It is a global crisis that requires massive cuts in carbon and transformation of our energy system."

Then stopping Perry's interjection about his record of lowering emissions in Texas, Sanders said: "I am asking you if you agree with the scientific community that climate change is a crisis and if we need to transform our energy system to protect future generations?"

It is worth noting, as Climate Progress's founding editor Joe Romm did, that Perry's retort about lowering carbon and sulfur emissions speaks to his lack of knowledge as well as how Republican efforts to rollback emissions regulations are at odds with climate science.

As Romm reported, "the reductions in sulfur dioxide and NOx that Perry is now bragging about were due to EPA [U.S. Environmental Protection Agency] regulations that Republicans like Perry fought against from the get-go. And now team Trump wants to kill the EPA regulations that would keep lowering carbon emissions."

Sanders also pressed Perry to state whether he thinks that "testing nuclear weapons is a dangerous idea." Perry sidestepped, saying he wants "a nuclear arsenal that is modern and safe" and that he will look to nuclear scientists for answers on whether they should be tested.

Perry added, "I think anyone would be of the opinion that if we don't ever have to test another nuclear weapon, that would be a good thing, not just for the United States, but for the world."

Watch the exchange below:

Sanders is not the only lawmaker who took issue with Perry's past statements on climate change.

During the hearing, Sen. Al Franken (D-Minn.) quoted Perry in 2014, when he declared: "I don't believe we have the settled science by any sense of the imagination. Calling CO2 a pollutant is doing a disserve to the country and a disservice to the world."

"Now," Franken continued, "I see in your testimony that your views have been evolving on this and you note that man is responsible for some climate change. How much climate change do you think that science shows is due to human activity?"

Perry interjected: "It is far from me to be sitting before you and claiming to be a climate scientist. I will not do that."

To which Franken retorted, "I don't think you're ever going to be a climate scientist, but you are going to be head of the Department of Energy."

What the exchange below:

Reposted with permission from our media associate Common Dreams.

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What Would U.S. Energy Policy Look Like With Rick Perry at the Helm?

By Rob Cowin

There's a clear trend in the president-elect's cabinet appointments—many of them are opposed to the agencies they would lead.

Some have demonstrated opposition to the particular agency and/or its mission in a professional capacity. Others have stated a desire to see the agency disappear altogether, suggesting the institution has no value.

Rick Perry's appointment to head the Department of Energy (DOE) is certainly consistent with this trend; in a 2011 presidential debate he famously forgot the name of the agency he would abolish. And now he's been nominated to lead it.

Why does it matter and what should we expect?

Is Gov. Perry the Right Fit?

The DOE has important national security responsibilities. It's primarily a weapons and environmental management agency, and the secretary position requires strong management skills.

One of DOE's most important responsibilities is making sure things like this (handling nuclear weapons) happen safely. Wikimedia

The DOE is also a science agency. While it's not essential that the secretary be a scientist, it's important that the secretary understands and values science and the scientific process.

Gov. Perry can certainly make a credible case that he's a good manager and he even has some experience with spent nuclear fuel policy in Texas. But he's also made numerous inaccurate and misleading scientific statements and rejects the scientific consensus on things like climate change. If Rick Perry is truly "very intent on doing a good job," he'll need to hit the reset button on his approach to science and science policy, start talking to the experts and stop making irresponsible statements.

As governor, though, he was savvy enough to see the economic and jobs potential of renewable energy, garnering a reputation as a pragmatist. The Texas wind industry, much of it under Perry's governorship, has provided $33 billion in capital investment to the state and supports more than 24,000 jobs and 38 manufacturing facilities, all while generating an incredible 18,531 megawatts of clean, renewable electricity.

How much credit Gov. Perry deserves is debatable, but his record should provide clean energy advocates some cautious optimism. One can work with a pragmatist; it's the ideologues you have to watch out for.

What the Department of Energy Does

Most of DOE's focus is nuclear weapons-related. The agency includes the National Nuclear Security Administration, with the vast majority of the agency's budget allocated to maintaining our nuclear arsenal and managing the cleanup of radioactive waste, much of it from the legacy of the Cold War.

DOE also does a lot of basic science research. DOE manages our 17 national labs, which employ roughly 110,000 people, are supported by Republicans and Democrats, and have helped the U.S. remain at the forefront of science and technology innovation since WWII.

DOE invests in basic scientific research.Sandia National Laboratories

The national labs continue to produce breakthroughs that aid our national security and economic competitiveness, as well as increasing our understanding of everything from automotive engineering, to environmental health, to computer science, to the origins of our universe.

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Take Action: Say No to Oil Insiders and Climate Deniers for Trump's Cabinet

There's breaking from tradition. Then there's giving away our democracy.

Republican or Democrat, almost every incoming president has turned to the best and the brightest we have—Nobel Prize winners, visionary business leaders, proven diplomats and field-leading experts—to serve on the cabinet and lead U.S. policy in areas like foreign relations, environmental protection and energy.

But with the incoming president, we've instead got a long list of oil industry insiders and climate deniers nominated for critical cabinet positions. Just look at some of the names:

1. Former ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson

Led a company under investigation for misleading the investors and the public about the climate crisis and has strong ties to Russia, the same country that intelligence officials say hacked our elections. Nominated to become secretary of state.

2. Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt

Received more than $300,000 in campaign contributions from the fossil fuel industry and involved in multiple lawsuits attacking the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Nominated to become EPA administrator.

3. Former Texas Governor Rick Perry

Called the climate crisis "one contrived phony mess" and proposed eliminating the U.S. Department of Energy. Nominated to become secretary of energy.

4. Representative Ryan Zinke

Disputes the reality of the climate crisis as "not proven science" and supports mining coal on public lands. Nominated to become secretary of the interior.

The implications couldn't be clearer—or more frightening. So we're standing with millions of Americans—Republicans, Democrats, Libertarians and everyone in between—to say no.

This isn't about party affiliation or debates about big and small government. All Americans deserve leaders we can trust to put our needs before the profits of powerful corporations. All Americans deserve clean air to breathe and clean water to drink. All Americans deserve a safe future without the devastation of the climate crisis.

But if the Senate confirms these nominations, we're turning over the air we breathe and the lands we share to the oil companies that have willfully polluted them for decades. We're potentially opening U.S. foreign policy to be shaped by Russian influence. We're giving up our leadership on climate action to China and Europe. And we're stepping back into the nineteenth century world of fossil fuels at a time when clean energy technologies like wind and solar are getting cheaper every year and putting thousands of Americans to work.

Now it's up to the Senate to confirm or reject these nominees. So it's up to us to make sure our senators do their job and only confirm nominees we can trust to protect the health of our families and the future of our planet.

We've got our work cut out for us. Already, the Senate has taken the almost unprecedented step of scheduling five confirmation hearings on one day, Jan. 18, to minimize the media coverage and public scrutiny of controversial nominees.

The only way to fight back is by speaking up. The message to the Senate is simple: We need nominees we can trust to put ordinary Americans first. To protect the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the planet we share from oil companies polluting our environment and driving the climate crisis. Not oil insiders and climate deniers ready to roll back the environmental protections millions of us rely on.

It's time to stand up. Take five minutes today and let your senators know our democracy is not for sale. Not to the oil industry and its allies. Not at any price. Our families, our friends and future generations are counting on us. And we won't let them down.

Call your senators today and tell them to vote against the oil insiders and climate deniers nominated for the cabinet: Rex Tillerson, Scott Pruitt, Ryan Zinke and Rick Perry.

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