Rick Perry Stepping Down From Energy Department
Energy Secretary Rick Perry, who has aggressively championed fossil fuels and expressed skepticism that the climate crisis is man-made, will step down from his post by the end of the year, The New York Times reported.
Perry is one of the few people in the Trump administration to remain despite unprecedented turnover, Twitter-storms and scandals. He has been a steadfast ally of the fossil fuel industry and appears to have avoided the president's ire. However, his ability to steer clear of scandal may have come to an end in the wake of the recent revelations of Trump's attempt to strong-arm the Ukrainian president into digging into Joe Biden's son, Hunter.
That inquiry has called into question Perry's trip to Ukraine President's Volodymyr Zelensky's inauguration in May where he promoted Ukraine's oil and natural gas exports, according to The New York Times. However, POLITICO reported that two people familiar with Perry's plans said he had been planning to leave for several months, well before the recent scandal surfaced.
So far, no evidence has emerged that Perry pressured Zelensky to investigate the Biden family, according to The Washington Post.
The Department of Energy would not confirm that Perry is planning to depart.
"While the Beltway media has breathlessly reported on rumors of Secretary Perry's departure for months, he is still the Secretary of Energy and a proud member of President Trump's Cabinet," Energy Department spokeswoman Shaylyn Hynes told CNN. "One day the media will be right. Today is not that day."
Perry's time at the Department of Energy is notable for his resistance to renewable energy. He has fiercely promoted oil and gas exploration and touted coal and nuclear energy as the future of America's energy sector, even though he has tried and failed to prop up coal-fired and nuclear power plants. Meanwhile, he has also approved plans to reduce funding for wind, solar and other renewable energy sources, according to The New York Times.
Just last month the Department of Energy put the kibosh on an Obama-era requirement that would have phased out incandescent and halogen light bulbs and replaced them with more efficient LED bulbs that would have kept millions of tons of CO2 out of the atmosphere.
Perry's resignation will seemingly end his long career in politics.
"I really think this might be the end of the road for him in terms of holding political positions," said James W. Riddlesperger, a professor of political science at Texas Christian University who has followed Mr. Perry's career since he ran for and won state agriculture commissioner in the 1990s, as The New York Times reported. Two people close to the energy secretary told the Times they expect him to go into the private sector.
Michael Greenstone, who directs the University of Chicago's Energy Policy Institute, wrote in an email to The Washington Post that Perry would leave government with a mixed record.
"By all accounts, Secretary Perry stands out for running the DOE forthrightly and without seeking personal gain. But at the same time, his DOE has pursued policies, for example his efforts to increase coal usage on the grid, that seem to willfully ignore science and economics," Greenstone wrote. "Ultimately, how one judges his tenure depends on how you add these factors up and whether you think they reflect his private views or the president's positions."
Power plants across Texas are leaching toxins into groundwater. https://t.co/VYb4C4RTPq— Lakota Law Project 🔺 (@lakotalaw) January 18, 2019
- Rick Perry thought he was talking energy policy with the Ukrainian ... ›
- Democrats now probing Mike Pence and Rick Perry's roles in ... ›
- Will Rick Perry Be Pulled Into Trump's Ukraine Hellscape? | Vanity Fair ›
- Nevada congressman calls for Secretary Rick Perry to resign over ... ›
- Energy Secretary Rick Perry Might Be Planning to Quit | Time ›
Yet another former Trump administration staffer has come out with an endorsement for former Vice President Joe Biden, this time in response to President Donald Trump's handling of the coronavirus pandemic.
- Trump Denies CDC Director's 2021 Timeline for Coronavirus Vaccine ›
- Trump Orders Hospitals to Stop Sending COVID-19 Data to CDC ... ›
- Two White House Staffers Test Positive for Coronavirus - EcoWatch ›
- Trump Admin to Disband Coronavirus Task Force - EcoWatch ›
- Pence Offers 'Prayers' as Hurricane Laura Hits Gulf Coast While ›
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
Every September for the past 11 years, non-profit the Climate Group has hosted Climate Week NYC, a chance for business, government, activist and community leaders to come together and discuss solutions to the climate crisis.
- Covering the 2020 Elections as a Climate Story - EcoWatch ›
- Coronavirus Delays 2020 Earth Overshoot Day by Three Weeks ... ›
By Elliot Douglas
The coronavirus pandemic has altered economic priorities for governments around the world. But as wildfires tear up the west coast of the United States and Europe reels after one of its hottest summers on record, tackling climate change remains at the forefront of economic policy.
- German Business Leaders Call for Climate Action With COVID-19 ... ›
- Climate Activists Protest Germany's New Datteln 4 Coal Power Plant ... ›
By D. André Green II
One of nature's epic events is underway: Monarch butterflies' fall migration. Departing from all across the United States and Canada, the butterflies travel up to 2,500 miles to cluster at the same locations in Mexico or along the Pacific Coast where their great-grandparents spent the previous winter.
Millions of People Care About Monarchs<p>I will never forget the sights and sounds the first time I visited monarchs' overwintering sites in Mexico. Our guide pointed in the distance to what looked like hanging branches covered with dead leaves. But then I saw the leaves flash orange every so often, revealing what were actually thousands of tightly packed butterflies. The monarchs made their most striking sounds in the Sun, when they burst from the trees in massive fluttering plumes or landed on the ground in the tussle of mating.</p><p>Decades of educational outreach by teachers, researchers and hobbyists has cultivated a generation of monarch admirers who want to help preserve this phenomenon. This global network has helped restore not only monarchs' summer breeding habitat by planting milkweed, but also general pollinator habitat by planting nectaring flowers across North America.</p><p>Scientists have calculated that restoring the monarch population to a stable level of about 120 million butterflies will require <a href="https://doi.org/10.1111/icad.12198" target="_blank">planting 1.6 billion new milkweed stems</a>. And they need them fast. This is too large a target to achieve through grassroots efforts alone. A <a href="https://www.fws.gov/savethemonarch/CCAA.html" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">new plan</a>, announced in the spring of 2020, is designed to help fill the gap.</p>
Pros and Cons of Regulation<p>The top-down strategy for saving monarchs gained energy in 2014, when the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service <a href="https://www.fws.gov/southeast/pdf/petition/monarch.pdf" target="_blank">proposed</a> listing them as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. A decision is expected in December 2020.</p><p>Listing a species as endangered or threatened <a href="https://www.fws.gov/endangered/esa-library/pdf/listing.pdf" target="_blank">triggers restrictions</a> on "taking" (hunting, collecting or killing), transporting or selling it, and on activities that negatively affect its habitat. Listing monarchs would impose restrictions on landowners in areas where monarchs are found, over vast swaths of land in the U.S.</p><p>In my opinion, this is not a reason to avoid a listing. However, a "threatened" listing might inadvertently threaten one of the best conservation tools that we have: public education.</p><p>It would severely restrict common practices, such as rearing monarchs in classrooms and back yards, as well as scientific research. Anyone who wants to take monarchs and milkweed for these purposes would have to apply for special permits. But these efforts have had a multigenerational educational impact, and they should be protected. Few public campaigns have been more successful at raising awareness of conservation issues.</p>
<span style="display:block;position:relative;padding-top:56.25%;" class="rm-shortcode" data-rm-shortcode-id="91165203d4ec0efc30e4632a00fdf57d"><iframe lazy-loadable="true" src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/KilPRvjbMrA?rel=0" width="100%" height="auto" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" style="position:absolute;top:0;left:0;width:100%;height:100%;"></iframe></span>
The Rescue Attempt<p>To preempt the need for this kind of regulation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service approved a <a href="https://www.fws.gov/savethemonarch/pdfs/Monarch%20CCAA-CCA%20Public%20Comment%20Documents/Monarch-Nationwide_CCAA-CCA_Draft.pdf" target="_blank">Nationwide Candidate Conservation Agreement for Monarch Butterflies</a>. Under this plan, "rights-of-way" landowners – energy and transportation companies and private owners – commit to restoring and creating millions of acres of pollinator habitat that have been decimated by land development and herbicide use in the past half-century.</p><p>The agreement was spearheaded by the <a href="http://rightofway.erc.uic.edu/" target="_blank">Rights-of-Way Habitat Working Group</a>, a collaboration between the University of Illinois Chicago's <a href="https://erc.uic.edu/" target="_blank" rel="noopener noreferrer">Energy Resources Center</a>, the Fish and Wildlife Service and over 40 organizations from the energy and transportation sectors. These sectors control "rights-of-way" corridors such as lands near power lines, oil pipelines, railroad tracks and interstates, all valuable to monarch habitat restoration.</p><p>Under the plan, partners voluntarily agree to commit a percentage of their land to host protected monarch habitat. In exchange, general operations on their land that might directly harm monarchs or destroy milkweed will not be subject to the enhanced regulation of the Endangered Species Act – protection that would last for 25 years if monarchs are listed as threatened. The agreement is expected to create up to 2.3 million acres of new protected habitat, which ideally would avoid the need for a "threatened" listing.</p>
A Model for Collaboration<p>This agreement could be one of the few specific interventions that is big enough to allow researchers to quantify its impact on the size of the monarch population. Even if the agreement produces only 20% of its 2.3 million acre goal, this would still yield nearly half a million acres of new protected habitat. This would provide a powerful test of the role of declining breeding and nectaring habitat compared to other challenges to monarchs, such as climate change or pollution.</p><p>Scientists hope that data from this agreement will be made publicly available, like projects in the <a href="https://www.fws.gov/savethemonarch/MCD.html" target="_blank">Monarch Conservation Database</a>, which has tracked smaller on-the-ground conservation efforts since 2014. With this information we can continue to develop powerful new models with better accuracy for determining how different habitat factors, such as the number of milkweed stems or nectaring flowers on a landscape scale, affect the monarch population.</p><p>North America's monarch butterfly migration is one of the most awe-inspiring feats in the natural world. If this rescue plan succeeds, it could become a model for bridging different interests to achieve a common conservation goal.</p>
The annual Ig Nobel prizes were awarded Thursday by the science humor magazine Annals of Improbable Research for scientific experiments that seem somewhat absurd, but are also thought-provoking. This was the 30th year the awards have been presented, but the first time they were not presented at Harvard University. Instead, they were delivered in a 75-minute pre-recorded ceremony.