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Perry touts innovation, energy choice in CERAWeek speech

The United States has developed enough of its natural resources to aid other nations in ensuring their energy security, Energy Secretary Rick Perry said March 13.

Using the podium at CERAWeek by IHS Markit to toss barbs at American adversaries and critics of the Trump administration, Perry said a "cascade of innovation" had boosted all sectors of the U.S. energy industry.

"Energy independence used to be a soundbite. Now it's a reality," he said. Perry said the U.S. was entering a "new American energy era," with new and smarter ways to produce energy with reduced emissions. He said U.S. solar energy output had increased 90% in two years and wind energy was out-producing hydropower for the first time.

"Texas now produces 15% of its energy from wind and solar," the former governor of Texas said. "That is more, percentage-wise, than our friends in Europe. You've been surpassed, Europe, by Texas."

Perry took a less-veiled shot at European nations when discussing the Paris Agreement on climate change, from which President Donald Trump has sought to withdraw. Many of the same countries that harshly criticized the U.S. for its stance on the pact publicly, he said, were interested in making deals for American natural gas privately.

"We would go into the bi-lats, and they would say, 'How about buying some of that LNG you guys got?'" he said. In spite of the disagreements with European allies over the Paris treaty, Perry touted the new Partnership for Transatlantic Energy Cooperation, intended in part to open markets in Central and Eastern Europe to American energy exports. Without mentioning the nation by name, Perry made it clear in his comments that P-TEC was intended to reduce the reliance of European nations on Russian natural gas.

"For those countries, choice means this: if they were bound to just one nation for their energy needs, they are bound no more. If they were restricted to just one energy source for their needs, they are restricted no more," he said.

Perry noted that the U.S. has regained the mantle of the world's largest producer of both oil and natural gas and said American LNG exports increased 150% year over year while coal exports were the second-highest on record in 2018. The benefits of America's energy strength, he said, can be shared by others.

"We want other countries to benefit from the innovation, technology, that is unleashed by our energy abundance. What we offer is true energy choice, which is borne out of innovation and represented by a variety of supply," he said. The energy secretary credited members of the oil and gas industry for their work on reducing emissions through innovation and not due to "onerous regulations" from the Paris treaty. Perry also criticized environmental groups for their unwillingness to credit the energy industry for producing "more abundantly and cleanly than ever."

"I'm constantly amazed by the lack of discussion around the progress that we're already making, that we've already made," he said. "We need more open and candid discussions … not just banning ideas just because they don't meet someone's narrative."