Rick Perry Confirmed as Energy Secretary, Ragnarok Can Now Begin

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    Rick Perry Confirmed as Energy Secretary, Ragnarok Can Now Begin

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    Here are some of the stories we’re reading this morning.
    by GTM Editors
    March 03, 2017
    2

    Vox: Now That He’s Confirmed, Rick Perry Has a Big Decision to Make About the Energy Department

    Now that Rick Perry has been confirmed as Donald Trump’s energy secretary, we’re about to find out what he really believes -- and what he’s willing to fight for.

    Back when he was governor of Texas and running for president in 2011, Perry famously vowed to abolish the Department of Energy (DOE) -- an agency with a $32 billion budget that oversees the nation’s nuclear weapons arsenal and also funds energy research on everything from solar panels to carbon capture.

    He’s since apologized for that. “After being briefed on so many of the vital functions of the Department of Energy, I regret recommending its elimination,” he told a Senate panel in January. During his confirmation hearing, Perry also said he now believes the federal government had a vital role to play in energy R&D -- including renewables.

    But we’ll see if Perry actually meant what he said. The Trump administration is currently proposing sweeping budget cuts to a variety of domestic agencies, including the DOE.


    Conservative groups like the Heritage Foundation are calling on Trump to zero out the DOE’s energy programs, which account for 15 percent of the agency’s budget. That could include killing the Office of Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency, which has played a supporting role in lowering the cost of solar power, and axing ARPA-E, an incubator for long-shot, futuristic energy tech.


    The Senate on Thursday confirmed former Texas Gov. Rick Perry to be President Donald Trump's energy secretary, elevating a nonscientist to oversee nuclear weapons programs, national laboratories, and energy research and development at an agency he once wanted to eliminate.

    Perry won support from every Republican and 10 Democrats, including Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Catherine Cortez Masto of Nevada, as well as Angus King (I-Maine). The final confirmation vote was 62-37.

    Environmentalists and Democrats such as Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer balked at Perry’s nomination, but the former Dancing With the Stars contestant turned out to be far less controversial than other Trump Cabinet picks that Democrats have resisted such as Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. Perry also helped smooth his path by contritely rescinding his pledge to dismantle the Energy Department -- uttered during his 2012 presidential campaign -- and reversing course on years of comments dismissing climate change science and scientists.


    John Goodenough, who is credited as the co-inventor of the lithium-ion battery cell, and his team at the Cockrell School of Engineering have released their findings of what is being described as a “breakthrough” for solid-state batteries.

    We don’t really like to report on battery “breakthroughs” since most of them are usually just sensationalist statements that don’t really qualify as “breakthroughs” or ever actually amount to anything, but it appears that Goodenough’s findings could be "good enough" to qualify as a breakthrough (if you can excuse the bad pun).

    Solid-state batteries are thought to be a lot safer than common lithium-ion cells and could have more potential for higher energy density, but we have yet to see a company capable of producing them at large scale and an attractive price point.



    Fifteen warehouses with solar panels will crank out 41 megawatts of power -- and they'll also mean you won't have to pay as much for Amazon services.

    The solar bug has bitten Amazon.

    The ecommerce behemoth said Thursday it's installing solar panels on 15 fulfillment centers this year, enough to generate up to 41 megawatts of power, and plans to expand to 50 of its sites by 2020.

    The move is good for Amazon and the planet, said Dave Clark, senior vice president of worldwide operations, in a statement. "This is good for the environment, our business and our customers. By diversifying our energy portfolio, we can keep business costs low and pass along further savings to customers," he said.

    Amazon also has already invested in a lot of renewable energy generated by wind turbines.

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