Trump's energy team speaks bluntly...
Interior secretary Ryan Zinke and Energy secretary Rick Perry held court at yesterday afternoon's meeting of the National Petroleum Council (NPC), an outside advisory group to the Department of Energy.
Why it matters: Speaking before a friendly audience and challenged by climate protesters, the two men offered a rather blunt take on their roles, their viewpoints, and their plans for the agencies.
A few takeaways...
We take care of our own: Zinke made clear that a priority is making Interior more friendly to oil-and-gas companies seeking to operate in federal lands and waters, using some form of the word "partner" more than once. He touted efforts to speed permitting and make more areas available for development.
- "We are now in the business of being partners, rather than being adversaries, and that is a cultural shift," he said at one point.
- To be sure, Zinke noted Interior's role as regulators and vowed to hold companies "accountable," but added: "holding you accountable means also being a partner."
- Zinke made a financial case, blaming Obama-era access restrictions for the decline in royalty collections that were billions of dollars higher in 2008. However, he failed to note that oil and natural gas prices were far higher a decade ago, a primary reason for the revenue change.
On offense: Perry pushed back against a pair of people who disrupted the meeting to criticize the Trump administration's stance on global warming, with one man telling Perry, "That's why I'm interrupting you sir, because you won't address climate change."
Perry touted production and exports of natural gas (which emits less CO2 than coal when burned) as part of a wider defense of administration policy and the fossil fuel industry.
- "This industry is leading the world when it comes to affecting the climate and affecting the climate in a positive way," he said, and credited the industry with "saving lives."
- "I am proud to be a part of this industry, I am proud to be an American. You want to talk about saving lives? That is what we're doing," Perry said.
Changing Interior's culture: Zinke, as he described his plans to reorganize Interior's structure, was quite blunt in characterizing his status atop the sprawling agency that employs 70,000 people and manages massive areas of public lands.
- "I got 30% of the crew that's not loyal to the flag," he said. "It is literally like capturing a prized ship at sea and only the captain and the first mate row over."
- He added that there are "good people" but that clear direction is needed. AP has more on those comments and department reorganization plans here.