Perry touts energy exports, awaits study on electric grid

By Matthew Daly, Associated Press

The Trump administration is pushing for increased exports of natural gas and other energy sources as it seeks U.S. "energy dominance" in the global market, Energy Secretary Rick Perry said Tuesday.

Energy Secretary Rick Perry speaks during a news conference, Tuesday, July 18, 2017, at the National Press Club in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

WASHINGTON (AP) — The Trump administration is pushing for increased exports of natural gas and other energy sources as it seeks U.S. "energy dominance" in the global market, Energy Secretary Rick Perry said Tuesday.

He and President Donald Trump have offered a "comforting" message to energy companies seeking to export liquefied natural gas, or LNG at huge terminals in Texas, Louisiana and other states, Perry said: "If you meet the rules, here's your permit."

Perry also said he has not seen a widely expected department study into the reliability of the electric grid. A draft version leaked to news outlets indicates that renewable power and federal regulations have had little impact on reliability.

"There are lots of people breathlessly waiting to read that" report, Perry said — and he is among them.

In a speech at the National Press Club, Perry called LNG exports a "major driver" of jobs and energy production and a key way to reduce global emissions of greenhouse gases that cause global warming.

"We can have a cleaner environment and a strong, prosperous nation," Perry said. "We do not need to sacrifice one for the other; nor will we follow the course other allies have taken to their detriment."

Perry cited a drive for renewable energy in Germany that he said has forced electricity costs to record highs. "That is not the direction the United States plans to take under the Trump administration," he said.

Perry also touted increased U.S. oil and coal exports as part of a strategy to boost energy production and jobs. Trump has heralded an "energy revolution" that he says celebrates American production on American soil, noting that the U.S. is on the brink of becoming a net exporter of oil, gas and other energy resources.

Trump signed an executive order in April to expand oil drilling in the Arctic and Atlantic oceans, reversing restrictions imposed by President Barack Obama. Trump has also pushed to revive U.S. coal production after years of decline and to boost energy production on federal lands.

U.S. coal exports rose sharply in early 2017 amid increased demand in Asia and Europe, the Energy Department said Tuesday. Exports were up by 8 million tons through March, a 58 percent jump over the same period last year. Top destinations for U.S. coal were the Netherlands, South Korea and India.

Despite the increase, volumes remain well below what the industry anticipated when it announced plans over the past decade to build or expand coal ports in Oregon, Louisiana, Washington state and California.

On the grid study, Perry said critics on all sides were "throwing jell-o at the wall" on a report that is not yet finished. "I haven't seen it yet," he said.

A draft version leaked to news outlets indicates that renewable power and federal regulations have had little impact on reliability. The draft report cites declining demand and plunging costs of natural gas for early retirements of traditional coal and nuclear power plants.

The Energy Department has said the draft study is out of date and a new version could have different conclusions. Renewable energy advocates, including some Republicans, have expressed concern that the report could be used to undermine support for wind and solar power.

The report is expected to be made public this month, but Perry offered no firm timetable. "Like you, I'm breathlessly waiting to get my hands on it," he said.

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