Perry to Resign by Year's End 10/18 06:11

Perry to Resign by Year's End          10/18 06:11

   WASHINGTON (AP) -- Energy Secretary Rick Perry announced Thursday that he 
will leave his job by the end of the year, saying that under President Donald 
Trump the nation is nearing energy independence.

   Perry's long-rumored departure comes as he is under scrutiny over the role 
he played in the president's dealings with Ukraine, the focus of an ongoing 
impeachment inquiry.

   In a letter to Trump, Perry made no mention of Ukraine and exalted policy 
successes that have led to increased production and exports of oil and natural 
gas.

   "The U.S. private sector is leading the world in energy production, 
exploration and exports," Perry said. "Today, when the world looks for energy, 
they can now think of America first."

   Trump said Perry "has done a fantastic job" at Energy, "but it was time" for 
him to leave.

   Perry, 69, a former Texas governor, has been energy secretary since March 
2017, making him one of the longest-serving members of Trump's Cabinet, which 
has seen huge turnover.

   He was traveling with Trump to Texas when he notified the president of his 
decision aboard Air Force One.

   Trump told reporters he "knew six months ago" that Perry wanted to leave by 
the end of the year. "He's got some ideas for doing something else. He's a 
terrific guy," Trump said.

   Trump said he already knows who will succeed Perry, but declined to identify 
the person.

   House Democrats have subpoenaed Perry for documents related to a Ukrainian 
state-owned energy company as well as his involvement in a July call between 
Trump and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy. The lawmakers set a Friday 
deadline.

   Trump has said Perry teed up the July 25 call, in which Trump pressed 
Ukraine to investigate his Democratic rival Joe Biden and his son, who was 
employed by a Ukrainian gas company.

   A spokeswoman for Perry has said he wanted Trump to speak with the Ukrainian 
leader on energy matters related to U.S. efforts to boost Western energy ties 
to Eastern Europe. It is part of a long-term effort to lessen the political 
control Russia wields through its dominance of the fuel supply.

   The Associated Press reported this month that a circle of businessmen and 
Republican donors touted their connections to Trump and his personal lawyer, 
Rudy Giuliani, as they sought to install new management at the top of Ukraine's 
state-owned gas company last spring.

   The plan hit a snag after Zelinskiy's election, but Perry took up the effort 
to install a friendlier management team at the company, Naftogaz. Perry 
attended Zelinskiy's May 2019 inauguration as the administration's senior 
representative and met privately with Zelinskiy. He has denied any wrongdoing.

   Perry had disputed published reports that he was planning to leave the 
administration. He told a news conference in Lithuania earlier this month: "One 
of these days they will probably get it right. But it's not today, it's not 
tomorrow, not next month. Keep saying it and one day you'll be right."

   Perry, who twice ran for president before taking the job at Energy, has kept 
a relatively low-profile in his 2 -year tenure. He has supported Trump's call 
for "energy dominance" around the world and pushed to bolster struggling 
coal-fired and nuclear power plants. He said last year that a rash of coal and 
nuclear retirements was "alarming" and posed a looming crisis for the nation's 
power grid.

   "If unchecked, (the plant closures) will threaten our ability to recover 
from intentional attacks and natural disasters," Perry said at a speech in 
Texas.

   Trump, who has frequently promised to bring back coal jobs, directed Perry 
in June 2018 to take "immediate steps" to bolster struggling coal-fired and 
nuclear power plants to keep them open, calling it a matter of national and 
economic security.

   No definitive action has been taken since then. A regional transmission 
organization that oversees the power grid in 13 Eastern and Midwestern states 
said there's no immediate threat to system reliability.

   Perry has won plaudits from lawmakers for an easygoing style that reflects a 
life in politics, and he has frequently distanced himself from severe budget 
cuts to energy programs sought by the White House. He has toured Energy 
Department sites around the country, represented the Trump administration at 
meetings overseas and begun a years-long process to revive a shuttered nuclear 
waste dump at Nevada's Yucca Mountain.

   Before taking the Energy job, Perry had been subjected to widespread 
ridicule after forgetting the name of an agency he pledged to eliminate as 
president. That agency was the Energy Department. Despite that, Perry has 
emerged as a strong defender of the department's work, especially the 17 
national labs that conduct cutting-edge research on everything from national 
security to renewable energy.

   "I'm telling you officially the coolest job I've ever had is being secretary 
of Energy ... and it's because of these labs," Perry told employees at the 
Idaho National Laboratory in 2017.

   Trump denied reports that Texas Gov. Greg Abbott or Alaska Gov. Mike 
Dunleavy could replace Perry, but said, "They would both be very good."


(KR)

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