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Energy Secretary Rick Perry eyeing exit in November


Energy Secretary Rick Perry is expected to announce his resignation from the administration by the end of November, according to three people familiar with his plans.

Perry, who had been Texas’ longest-serving governor before joining President Donald Trump’s Cabinet in 2017, has largely avoided the controversies that felled others in the administration. But his travels to Ukraine lately have embroiled him in the impeachment inquiry engulfing Trump and his inner circle, even though two of the people called the scandal unrelated to Perry’s departure, which they said he has been planning for several months.

Perry had been sharply critical of Trump in 2015, calling his then-rival’s campaign “a cancer on conservatism.” But Trump nevertheless tapped him to run the Energy Department — an agency Perry once pledged to shut down had he been successful in his White House bid. He came to D.C. wary of getting caught up in the sort of scandals that eventually forced out former Environmental Protection Agency Director Scott Pruitt and former Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, according to multiple people close to him.

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.