Rick Perry: We aim for energy domination

A day after Secretary of Energy Rick Perry toured a coal-fired power plant in northern West Virginia, the former Texas governor sat down with the Washington Examiner at the National Energy Technology Laboratory in suburban Pittsburgh.

The facility is one of 17 government-funded national labs within the Department of Energy and is also part of a fascinating chapter in American history, not just in the development of energy, but also of science.

The complex, atop a rolling Appalachian ridge, once housed the head of the Ordnance Engineering Group for the Manhattan Project and the researchers and scientists who helped design the trigger for the first atomic bomb.

Perry visited for a tour of the lab that is working to expand the possibilities for horizontal drilling and hydraulic fracturing for natural gas in shale. He praised work the lab is also doing to identify and extract rare-earth elements from coal and coal byproducts.

The former Republican presidential candidate was confirmed by the Senate in March fairly comfortably, especially considering the partisan pushback some of President Trump’s Cabinet picks received. The job requires Perry to oversee the nation’s nuclear weapons programs, 17 national laboratories, and energy research and development that includes more than 100,000 employees spread throughout the country.

Of the 17 labs, this one is the only one entirely run by the federal government.

Sitting in a conference room overlooking the lush 38-acre Energy Department facility, the secretary discussed the Trump administration’s ambitions for energy policy, his responsibilities and approach to the office, and what he hopes to accomplish by the time he leaves office.

Washington Examiner: What is the scope of your job as you see it?

Perry: Well, it’s an interesting agency in the sense of part of what they do, the general public only has a passing knowledge of. All the nuclear weapon arsenal is under the purview of the Department of Energy. So, making sure that it’s safe, secure. Making sure that it works. God forbid that we ever have to use it, but if we do, we want to know it’s going to work.

Washington Examiner: How do you ensure that it is functional?

Perry: With the prohibition against underground testing, that means that super-computing becomes very important in running the models with our computers. One of the things I will discuss today with the employees is our goals — modernizing the weapons arsenal and making sure that we modernize it appropriately.

Then the cleanup of the Cold War, the legacy of the Cold War. There are a lot of places around the country where we did work — Hanford, up in the Pacific Northwest, for instance, Oak Ridge, Rocky Flats in Colorado, Paducah in Kentucky. It’s going to be a long process in some of the places. That’s two-thirds of our budget there. The 17 national labs, one of which we are in now, the National Energy Technology Lab. It’s a unique one in the sense of it’s the only one that’s actually government-run and government-operated. The other ones are what we call MNO, where there’s a contractor that comes in and operates it. Those other 16 labs are run by private-sector organizations. And it is just mind-boggling work that they do. Everything from finding the next safe, thoughtful way to use a type of energy. For instance, right here in this one in Pittsburgh, how do you use coal in a way that will continue to support the coal industry, support the jobs and the livelihood and the way of life that coal has been involved with?

So, those are the types of things that this facility, and the one down in Morgantown, W.Va., that we are working together to come up with the new technologies to use coal, fossil fuels, in a thoughtful way.

Washington Examiner: And what about natural gas?

Perry: We’re sitting on one of the most prolific natural gas fields in the world, right under our feet. How to take that resource, add value to it. One of the conversations we had this morning at the West Virginia University, with the private sector, with DOE employees, with the governor’s office in West Virginia, was how to create an energy hub in this region.

Read more at Washington Examiner

Comments (2)

  • Avatar

    Spurwing Plover


    Screw Greenpeace its drill in the arctic and reject this Fragile Earth poppycock and this delicate balance of nature and as for Al Gore and his Earth in the Balance he defenetly has his thumb on the scale

  • Avatar



    There is absolutely
    Natural Gas,
    Geo Thermal,
    Tidal Energy
    cannot fill the 40% Killer Coal’s
    monopolistic niche,
    as we dispose
    . and
    by the way,
    “UNSUBSIDIZED” SOLAR, WIND generated electricity are substantially less expensive than cheapest KILLER COAL today !!
    TALK ABOUT MASSIVE REDISTRIBUTION OF WEALTH… the TOP ECONOMIC TIER has had its total taxes paid cut in half and that is on TRIPLED INCOME!

    A huge chunk of the cost of transitioning away from the KILLER Coal & OIL monopoly, can be paid for by STOPPING
    the endless subsidies,
    industry specific Tax Breaks,
    industry specific Tax Deferrals (most never to be paid) ,
    free land,
    free land use,
    free infra structure, etc.
    Paul Ryan, August of 2016, estimated that by the end of 2016 Coal & Oil will have received just over a TRILLION DOLLARS
    in subsidies, free land, free infrastructure, industry specific tax breaks and tax deferrals etc.
    …including EVEN foreign aid used as a dollar-for-dollar reimbursement to foreign nations for their subsidies to Our Oil & Coal Companies.
    “…There are numerous damaging & TOXIC environmental impacts of coal electric Generation that occur through its mining, preparation, combustion, waste storage, and transport.
    This article provides an overview:
    **Acid mine drainage (AMD) refers to the outflow of acidic water from coal mines or metal mines, often abandoned mines where ore- or coal mining activities have exposed rocks containing the sulphur-bearing mineral pyrite.
    Pyrite reacts with air and water to form sulphuric acid and dissolved iron, and as water washes through mines, this compound forms a dilute acid, which can wash into nearby rivers and streams.[1]
    **Air pollution from coal-fired power plants includes sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, particulate matter (PM), and heavy metals, leading to smog, acid rain, toxins in the environment, and numerous respiratory, cardiovascular, and cerebrovascular effects.[2]
    **Air pollution from coal mines is mainly due to emissions of particulate matter and gases including methane (CH4), sulfur dioxide (SO2), and nitrogen oxides (NOx), as well as carbon monoxide (CO).[3]
    **Climate impacts of coal plants – Coal-fired power plants are responsible for one-third of America’s carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, making coal a huge contributor to global warming.[4]
    **Black carbon resulting from incomplete combustion is an additional contributor to climate change.[5] CHINA reported an 18% loss of snow pack and glacial ice due to Black Carbon.
    **Coal dust stirred up during the mining process, as well as released during coal transport, which can cause severe and potentially deadly respiratory problems.[6]
    **Coal fires occur in both abandoned coal mines and coal waste piles. Internationally, thousands of underground coal fires are burning now.
    **Global coal fire emissions are estimated to include 40 tons of mercury going into the atmosphere annually, and three percent of the world’s annual carbon dioxide emissions.[7][8]
    **Coal combustion waste is the nation’s second largest waste stream after municipal solid waste.[9] It is disposed of in landfills or “surface impoundments,” which are lined with compacted clay soil, a plastic sheet, or both.
    **As rain filters through the toxic ash pits year after year, the toxic metals are leached out into the local environment.[10][11]
    **Coal sludge, also known as slurry, is the liquid coal waste generated by washing coal. It is typically disposed of at impoundments located near coal mines, but in some cases it is directly injected into abandoned underground mines.
    Since coal sludge contains toxins, leaks or spills can endanger underground and surface waters.[2]
    **Floods such as the Buffalo Creek Flood caused by mountaintop removal mining and failures of coal mine impoundments.
    **Forest destruction caused by mountaintop removal mining – According to a 2010 study, mountaintop removal mining has destroyed 6.8% of Appalachia’s forests.[12][13]
    **Greenhouse gas emissions caused by surface mining – According to a 2010 study, mountaintop removal mining releases large amounts of carbon through clearcutting and burning of trees and through releases of carbon in soil brought to the surface by mining operations. These greenhouse gas emissions amount to at least 7% of conventional power plant emissions.[14][15]
    **Loss or degradation of groundwater
    – Since coal seams are often serve as underground aquifers, removal of coal beds may result in drastic changes in hydrology after mining has been completed.
    **Radical disturbance of 8.4 million acres of farmland, rangeland, and forests, most of which has not been reclaimed
    — See The footprint of coal
    **Heavy metals and coal
    – Coal contains many heavy metals, as it is created through compressed organic matter containing virtually every element in the periodic table – mainly carbon, but also heavy metals.
    The heavy metal content of coal varies by coal seam and geographic region. Small amounts of heavy metals can be necessary for health, but too much may cause acute or chronic toxicity (poisoning).
    Many of the heavy metals released in the mining and burning of coal are environmentally and biologically toxic elements, such as lead, mercury, nickel, tin, cadmium, antimony, and arsenic, as well as radio isotopes of thorium and strontium.[16][17][18]
    **Mercury and coal – Emissions from coal-fired power plants are the largest source of mercury in the United States, accounting for about 41 percent (48 tons in 1999) of industrial releases.[19]
    **Methane released by coal mining accounts for about 10 percent of US releases of methane (CH4), a potent global warming gas.[20]
    **Mountaintop removal mining and other forms of surface mining can lead to the drastic alteration of landscapes, destruction of habitat, damages to water supplies, and air pollution.
    Not all of these effects can be adequately addressed through coal mine reclamation.
    **Particulates and coal – Particulate matter (PM) includes the tiny particles of fly ash and dust that are expelled from coal-burning power plants.[21]
    Studies have shown that exposure to particulate matter is related to an increase of respiratory and cardiac mortality.[22] [23]
    **Radioactivity and coal – Coal contains minor amounts of the radioactive elements, uranium and thorium. When coal is burned, the fly ash contains uranium and thorium “at up to 10 times their original levels.”[24]
    – Land subsidence may occur after any type of underground mining, but it is particularly common in the case of longwall mining.[25]
    **Sulfur dioxide and coal
    – Coal-fired power plants are the largest human-caused source of sulfur dioxide, a pollutant gas that contributes to the production of acid rain and causes significant health problems.
    Coal naturally contains sulfur, and when coal is burned, the sulfur combines with oxygen to form sulfur oxides.[26]
    **Thermal pollution from coal plants is the degradation of water quality by power plants and industrial manufacturers
    – when water used as a coolant is returned to the natural environment at a higher temperature, the change in temperature impacts organisms by decreasing oxygen supply, and affecting ecosystem composition.[27]
    – According to a July 2011 NRDC report, “How Power Plants Contaminate Our Air and States” electricity generation in the U.S. releases 381,740,601 lbs. of toxic air pollution annually, or 49% of total national emissions, based on data from the EPA’s Toxic Release Inventory (2009 data, accessed June 2011). Power plants are the leading sources of toxic air pollution in all but four of the top 20 states by electric sector emissions.
    – Coal is often transported via trucks, railroads, and large cargo ships, which release air pollution such as soot and can lead to disasters that ruin the environment, such as the Shen Neng 1 coal carrier collision with the Great Barrier Reef, Australia that occurred in April 2010.
    **Waste coal,
    also known as “culm,” “gob,” or “boney,” is made up of unused coal mixed with soil and rock from previous mining operations. Runoff from waste coal sites can pollute local water supplies.[28]
    **Water consumption from coal plants
    – Power generation has been estimated to be second only to agriculture in being the largest domestic user of water.[29]
    **Water pollution from coal includes the negative health and environmental effects from the mining, processing, burning, and waste storage of coal.

    “The Trump administration has hit the pause button on an Obama-era regulation aimed at limiting the dumping of toxic metals such as arsenic and mercury by the nation’s power plants into public waterways.
    “I have decided that it is appropriate and in the public interest to reconsider the rule,” Scott Pruitt, head of the Environmental Protection Agency

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