Updated: Nov. 8, 2019: The White House submitted its nomination of Deputy Secretary of Energy Dan Brouillette to become Secretary of Energy to the Senate on Thursday.
Updated: Oct. 18, 2019: President Donald Trump will nominate Brouillette to replace Rick Perry, he announced in a tweet.
Energy Secretary Rick Perry told President Donald Trump he would be resigning from the Department of Energy (DOE), the department announced Thursday.
The Secretary has been rumored to resign since the beginning of the month, as his efforts in Ukraine got him pulled into Congress’s impeachment inquiry into the president. Trump told House minority leaders Oct. 11 that Perry had asked him to call Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to discuss a natural gas plant.
Perry had denied early rumors of his resignation. "One of these days [the media] will probably get it right, but it’s not today, it’s not tomorrow, it’s not next month," he told reporters. His departure is expected "later this year," according to a video he released on Thursday, but an official date has not been set.
A key effort of DOE under the Trump administration has been increasing U.S. energy exports, something Perry was heavily involved in.
"I can attest first hand that the demand for our product is stronger than it has ever been," Perry wrote in his resignation letter to the president. "Not long ago, America was an importer of energy. Now, the U.S. private sector is leading the world in energy production, exploration and exports. ... Today, when the world looks for energy, they can now think of America first."
Part of those efforts involved trips to Ukraine. There is no evidence that any of Perry's work was linked with the efforts of the Trump administration, currently under investigation by the House.
Perry's tenure as energy secretary was largely fossil fuel and nuclear focused. He framed his efforts as a way to exert American independence, famously coining the term "freedom gas," and defending his department's efforts to provide cost recovery for coal and nuclear plants, despite anticipated costs.
"I think you take costs into account, but what's the cost of freedom? What is the cost to build a system to keep America free?" he said at a House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee meeting in 2017.
Earlier that year, he garnered the opposition of investor owned utility leadership for his efforts to review whether increased renewable resources additions onto the grid were displacing baseload generators.
Under his watch, the department rolled out several initiatives targeting "clean coal" retrofits as well as spurring the domestic small advanced nuclear market.
Along with Brouillette, Federal Energy Regulatory Commission Chair Neil Chatterjee had been floated as a potential replacement, as his exit from FERC was rumored as well, but the chairman denied those rumors to reporters on Thursday.
"I have never expressed interest in being DOE secretary," he said. "I intend to finish my term so that stakeholders can have confidence in the durability of this commission."
Iulia Gheorghiu contributed to this reporting.