U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry on Tuesday dismissed a news story that he plans to leave the U.S. Department of Energy, and he suggested the story was the product of a “rumor factory.”
Perry was asked about the Bloomberg News story during a brief question-and-answer session with reporters at Oak Ridge National Laboratory on Tuesday morning, after DOE and Cray announced that Frontier, an exascale supercomputer to be built at the lab, is expected to be the world’s most powerful when it debuts in 2021.
Perry said there have been previous reports that he planned to move to the Veterans Administration, Department of Homeland Security, and Department of Defense.
“I guess the rumor factory ran out of places for me to move inside the Cabinet,” Perry said.
Perry said he has no immediate or near-term plans to leave DOE—”not today, not tomorrow.”
But that left unanswered the question of how long he might stay.
“I am a day closer to leaving” and going back to Texas, Perry said with a smile, seeming to suggest the obvious: each day worked for DOE puts him one day closer to the eventual end of his time in the office.
Bloomberg reported in April that Perry was planning his exit. The news agency said Perry’s departure was not imminent, but he had seriously contemplated leaving the post for weeks.
An Energy Department spokeswoman, Shaylyn Hynes, rejected the idea that Perry would be leaving the administration any time soon. “He is happy where he is serving President Trump and leading the Department of Energy,” she said in a statement, Bloomberg News reported.
Perry had called for eliminating DOE during the 2012 presidential campaign, but he now says that being energy secretary is the “coolest” job he’s ever had.
DOE includes national laboratories such as ORNL, nuclear weapons laboratories and production sites such as the Y-12 National Security Complex, and an environmental management, or cleanup, program at sites like East Tennessee Technology Park (the former K-25 site).
During his first visit to Oak Ridge in May 2017, Perry pledged to be an advocate for at least some DOE programs. Earlier, he had said during his confirmation hearing that he regretted his earlier call to eliminate DOE. After being briefed on many vital functions of DOE, he no longer believed that it should be eliminated, Perry said.
During a stop in Hardin Valley two years ago, Perry acknowledged he had learned a lot since the 2012 campaign, including in his visit to Oak Ridge, at DOE headquarters in Washington, D.C., and in trips to national labs. He suggested he might not be the only one unaware of some of the innovations that have roots in or are developed in places like Oak Ridge, innovations like gene therapy, supercomputing, and 3D printing. The American public may also not be aware of how that “cutting-edge” technology can be used to create jobs and wealth, Perry said.
Since then, Perry has advocated for supercomputing and cyber security initiatives, continued to learn more about 3D printing and advanced manufacturing, and cited the importance of research that could help with medical breakthroughs, among other programs.
Perry was previously Texas’s longest-serving governor, and he has enjoyed a good rapport with President Donald Trump, according to Bloomberg News.
The news agency said rumors of Perry’s departure from the agency have popped up before.
More information will be added as it becomes available.
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