Dan Brouilllette confirmed as US Secretary of Energy

Former deputy to Rick Perry promoted after predecessor implicated in Trump impeachment enquiry

The US Senate voted 70 to 15 to confirm Dan Brouillette as secretary of energy, succeeding Rick Perry, who stepped down last month after reports linked him to claims President Donald Trump had tried to improperly influence the government of Ukraine.

Trump picks deputy Brouillette as new US energy secretary

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Brouillette, Perry's deputy since 2017, has been a key player in promoting the Trump administration's so-called "energy dominance" agenda - a geopolitical strategy for achieving self-sufficiency in energy and to maximise the economic and technological benefits of doing so, while having ample surplus for export to friendly nations facing supply uncertainties.

Offshore wind is part of that agenda despite President Donald Trump's public criticism of wind turbines as aesthetically ugly and his assertion that their noise causes cancer. His home state of New York leads the nation with a 9GW offshore wind capacity target by 2035.

Under Perry and Brouillette, onshore wind and large solar PV have boomed even as Trump sought - unsuccessfully thus far - to revitalise the money-losing coal industry with executive decrees and regulations, and by lobbying investor-owned utilities to burn more fossil fuels.

Perry was the public face of administration efforts - also unsuccessful - to allow generators with onsite fuel supplies, i.e. coal, in competitive markets to recover their costs regardless of the underlying economics of their plants.

It's unclear if Trump expects Brouillette to lobby the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission and regional grid operators to adopt such rule making which they have been reluctant to do.

Brouillette is said to be more detail-oriented and knowledgeable on energy issues than Perry, and unlike his former boss, the former Ford executive has spent much of his career in the private sector.

"He's more in the weeds of management and the policy than Perry, who's more casting the vision and selling American energy technology and abundance," Rich Powell, executive director of ClearPath Foundation, a conservative clean energy group in Washington, DC, told The New York Times.

Prior to becoming deputy energy secretary, he had stints serving as Assistant Secretary for Congressional & Intergovernmental Affairs at the Department of Energy (DOE)between 2001 and 2003 under former US President George W Bush, and chief of staff to the House of Representatives' Energy and Commerce Committee.

He was also a member of Louisiana's Mineral and Energy Board, comes to the job from the post of Deputy Secretary of Energy.

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The DOE said in a statement that Brouillette’s official swearing-in will take place “at a later date”. Trump's sour-year term ends on 20 January 2021.