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Rick Perry speaks with Jim VandeHei and Chuck Todd at an Axios/NBC energy policy event Thursday morning in Washington, D.C. Photo: Chuck Kennedy / Axios

Energy secretary Rick Perry joined an Axios/NBC event this morning, helping us drive the discussion about the administration's energy policy priorities in 2017. Perry told Axios' CEO and co-founder Jim VandeHei and NBC's Chuck Todd that he thinks climate change is real and humans "have an impact on it," but that "I still think the science is out on" whether humans cause 100% of it.

Yes, but: The scientific consensus is that human activities have been the primary driver of the warming trend since the mid-20th century.

On nuclear power: "It's zero emissions…Are we smart enough to deal with the waste? I think we are. That's a political issue."

The reasoning behind revitalizing the coal industry: "If you can guarantee me that the wind's going to blow tomorrow…then I'll buy into that. But you can't...Our job is to make sure the electricity's on."

About the future of energy: "The holy grail of energy may be in a national lab…and it's about battery storage…battery storage changes the world."

On Puerto Rico response: "We were slow getting [electricity] back if we use Florida and Texas as your model," but Puerto Rico is different.

Go deeper

6 hours ago - World

Top general: U.S. losing time to deter China

Stanley McChrystal. Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images

Stanley McChrystal, a top retired general and Biden adviser, tells Axios that "China's military capacity has risen much faster than people appreciate," and the U.S. is running out of time to counterbalance that in Asia and prevent a scenario such as it seizing Taiwan.

Why it matters: McChrystal, the former commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, recently briefed the president-elect as part of his cabinet of diplomatic and national security advisers. President-elect Joe Biden is considering which Trump- or Obama-era approaches to keep or discard, and what new strategies to pursue.

Progressives shift focus from Biden's Cabinet to his policy agenda

Joe Biden giving remarks in Wilmington, Del., last month. Photo: Roberto Schmidt/AFP via Getty Images

Some progressives tell Axios they believe the window for influencing President-elect Joe Biden’s Cabinet selections has closed, and they’re shifting focus to policy — hoping to shape Biden's agenda even before he’s sworn in.

Why it matters: The left wing of the party often draws attention for its protests, petitions and tweets, but this deliberate move reflects a determination to move beyond some fights they won't win to engage with Biden strategically, and over the long term.

Dave Lawler, author of World
8 hours ago - World

Venezuela's predictable elections herald an uncertain future

The watchful eyes of Hugo Chávez on an election poster in Caracas. Photo: Cristian Hernandez/AFP via Getty

Venezuelans will go to the polls on Sunday, Nicolás Maduro will complete his takeover of the last opposition-held body, and much of the world will refuse to recognize the results.

The big picture: The U.S. and dozens of other countries have backed an opposition boycott of the National Assembly elections on the grounds that — given Maduro's tactics (like tying jobs and welfare benefits to voting), track record, and control of the National Electoral Council — they will be neither free nor fair.