Perry eagerly took the lead in Trump’s effort to resurrect the struggling coal industry, but his bid to persuade energy regulators to establish financial support for coal power plants was soundly rejected by the bipartisan Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. He shifted his attention to promoting U.S. supplies of coal, oil and natural gas to foreign governments, positioning U.S. energy supplies as a counterbalance to Russian and OPEC exports. Still, his earnestness often drew mockery, including his references to American natural gas as “molecules of U.S. freedom.”
But he proved to be a successful promoter of liquefied natural gas exports, traveling regularly to Poland, Ukraine, Lithuania and other Eastern European countries to pitch exports.
“We’re going to bring our A-game,” he said after a 10-day trip to Eastern Europe in 2018. “We’re going to try to win every contract that we can, knowing that we can’t win every contract and we can’t supply every contract. But if we’re in the game in a very substantive way, we will help drive the competition, which will drive down the cost of gas.”
He also often touted the fuel’s role in cutting U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, even though he was criticized by Democrats and environmentalists for rejecting the scientific data showing carbon dioxide was the main factor in driving climate change. As recently as August, he ridiculed Democrats for living in a “fantasy world” in their calls for aggressive action to fight climate change.