Former Texas Governor Rick Perry kicked off his confirmation hearing before the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources Thursday morning by expressing regret for campaigning on the promise of doing away with the Energy Department.

“My past statements made over five years ago about abolishing the Department of Energy do not reflect my current thinking,” Perry said. “In fact, after being briefed on so many of the vital functions of the Department of Energy, I regret recommending its elimination.”

Perry is President-elect Donald Trump’s pick to lead the Department of Energy.

Perry also touched on the politically sensitive topic of climate change. He said in his opening remarks that he believes the climate is changing and some of it is caused by “man-made activity.”

“The question is how do we address it in a thoughtful way?” Perry added. “When it comes to climate change, I’m committed to making decisions based on sound science that also take into account economic impact.”

The former Texas Governor repeatedly touted his tenure overseeing a state with the 12th largest economy in the world as reason he’s prepared for the position.

Fellow Texan, U.S. Sen. John Cornyn praised Perry as he introduced him to the committee citing job growth and Texas becoming the top exporting state in the country while Perry was Governor.

“Rick Perry is not a status quo kind of guy. He’s a leader. He’s an innovator,” Cornyn said.

Cornyn also noted that today, Texas leads the nation in oil and gas production and produces more wind energy than any other state in the country.

Perry was set to face tough questioning from Democratic Sen. Al Franken, but then this exchange happened:

 

But Sen. Franken then turned serious citing Perry’s 2010 book where he wrote about a “cooling trend” and asked about how much climate change he thinks is due to human activity.

“Senator far from me to be sitting before you today and claiming to be a climate scientist. I will not do that,” Perry said.

“I don’t think you’re ever going to be a climate scientist. But you’re going to be the head of the Department of Energy,” Franken responded. “I don’t want this idea of the economy and addressing climate change are at odds at all.”

 

This post will be updated and watch Capital Tonight at 7pm for full coverage and analysis of Perry’s confirmation hearing.

 

Posted by Karina Kling

@KarinaKling