Reports from several news outlets say that Energy Secretary Rick Perry could step down from that role as soon as November.
The Washington Post on Oct. 4 said Perry plans to step down by year-end and return to the private sector. The Post cited four unnamed individuals who it said had been briefed on Perry’s plans. The Politico news outlet late Oct. 3 reported that Perry plans to leave the Department of Energy (DOE) next month.
Shaylyn Hynes, a DOE spokeswoman, in an email to media would not confirm the reports, saying, “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. One day the media will be right. Today is not that day.”
Should Perry resign, he would be the latest of about a dozen Cabinet members to leave their positions during the Trump administration.
Politico reported that Deputy Energy Secretary Dan Brouillette is expected to replace Perry. Brouillette was nominated in 2017 to his post at DOE, an agency where he served as an assistant secretary for congressional and intergovernmental affairs from 2001 to 2003. Brouillette was a vice president at Ford Motor Co. from 2004 to 2006. He also served as chief of staff for former U.S. Rep. Billy Tauzin (R-Louisiana).
Perry has become part of Congress’ impeachment inquiry of President Trump. Robert Melendez, D-N.J., the ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations committee, in a letter Tuesday asked Perry about his May 2019 trip to the Ukraine, asking for an official response no later than today. Reports that Trump asked Ukraine to investigate political rival Joe Biden have become a key element of the impeachment inquiry.
Perry, a former governor of Texas, has often gone to foreign countries to promote U.S. energy industry interests. Perry replaced Vice President Mike Pence and led a U.S. delegation to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s inauguration in May. That visit is under scrutiny as part of the impeachment inquiry into Trump launched on Sept. 24.
Perry, speaking at a DOE event on Wednesday, told media that “We’re going to work with Congress and answer all their questions.”
The secretary has been criticized by environmentalists for his support of coal-fired and nuclear power, which he reiterated during an address to the Edison Electric Institute’s annual convention in Philadelphia in June, attended by POWER. He also has worked on initiatives with bipartisan support, such as hardening the electricity grid against cybersecurity attacks.
While Trump has tried to cut DOE’s budget, it has grown under Perry, from $34.6 billion in fiscal 2018 to $35.5 billion in fiscal 2019.
—Darrell Proctor is a POWER associate editor (@DarrellProctor1, @POWERmagazine).