POLITICS
01/19/2017 12:19 pm ET

Rick Perry No Longer Wants To Get Rid Of The Agency He Now Wants To Lead

Trump's pick to head the Department of Energy says his 2011 comments "do not reflect my current thinking.”

WASHINGTON ― Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry said he no longer wants to eliminate the Cabinet department he now wants to lead.

At his confirmation hearing Thursday, Perry said the remarks he made while running for the Republican presidential nomination in 2011 ― which included vowing to abolish the Energy Department and forgetting its name ― “do not reflect my current thinking.”

“After bring briefed on so many of the vital functions of the Department of Energy, I regret recommending its elimination,” Perry told the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources in his opening remarks.

Democrats on the committee probably won’t let Perry forget his previous views, however. Washington Sen. Maria Cantwell, the ranking Democrat on the panel, mentioned it in her own opening statement. “I suspect that now having had a chance to learn about the importance of this department, you have a very different opinion,” she said.

Perry also disavowed his statements on climate change made during the 2011 campaign. He had suggested that it was a hoax and that “a substantial number of scientists … have manipulated data so that they will have dollars rolling into their projects.” 

“I believe the climate is changing,” Perry said on Thursday. “I believe some of it is naturally occurring, but some of it is also caused by manmade activity. The question is how do we address it in a thoughtful way that doesn’t compromise economic growth, the affordability of energy or American jobs.”

Perry’s prior positions on the Energy Department’s existence and climate change are just two reasons that scientists and environmental advocates are worried about putting him in charge of the department.

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