What cuts? Perry promises Energy Department will keep innovating

United States Energy Secretary Rick Perry speaks to an unidentified woman ahead of a G7 Energy meeting, in Rome. Monday, April 10, 2017. (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

The U.S. must innovate in the energy sector, Energy Secretary Rick Perry said on Friday, and his department will continue to drive some of that innovation.

Perry, speaking at Earth Day in Dallas, lauded the work of the energy department’s national laboratories and promised the labs would continue to break technological ground, even as his staff in Washington prepare for steep cuts to come.

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“Those 17 national labs are the most extraordinary jewels in the world,” Perry said. “A lot of places wish they had just one.”

Perry, a former presidential candidate and the longest serving governor of Texas, started at the department last month. Texas energy executives welcomed his appointment, and pointed to the state’s record of energy production, low regulation and job creation as signs Perry would do well in the department.

Perry infamously forgot the name of the department during a presidential debate — while saying he wanted eliminate it. But on Friday, he called his post the “coolest” job he has ever had.

The world faces extraordinary challenges, Perry told the audience at the $100-a-plate luncheon at Dallas’ Fair Park. But the solutions — cyber security and supercomputing among them — are being hammered out in energy department labs.

The U.S., he said, can lead the world in energy availability, affordability and environmental protection all at once.