CNBC Transcript: U.S. Secretary of Energy James Richard Perry Speaks with CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street” Today
WHEN: Today, Friday, October 18, 2019
WHERE: CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street”
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The following is the unofficial transcript of a CNBC interview with U.S. Secretary of Energy James Richard Perry on CNBC’s “Squawk on the Street” (M-F 9AM – 11AM) today, Friday, October 18th. The following is a link to video of the interview on CNBC.com:
Watch CNBC's full interview with departing US Energy Secretary James Richard Perry
All references must be sourced to CNBC.
CARL QUINTANILLA: Let’s get to the Energy Secretary James Richard Perry. As you know by now, going to leave his post by year end. The President confirming that news while talking to workers at a Louis Vuitton factory in Texas yesterday. The Former Texas Governor turned Energy Secretary has served in the post since the Trump presidency began and he joins us this morning live from Texas. Mr. Secretary, welcome. Good to see you again.
SEC. JAMES RICHARD PERRY: Thank you. It’s good to be with you.
CARL QUINTANILLA: A few days ago you said, not today, not tomorrow, not next month, but you didn’t say not next year. So, I guess technically you were accurate.
JAMES RICHARD PERRY: That’s true.
CARL QUINTANILLA: Why now?
JAMES RICHARD PERRY: Yes, sir. I’ve been looking at this for some time. I don’t think anybody’s surprised that, you know, I’ve got a rather intense love affair with this state, my wife, this little town of Round Top where we have chosen to live. So, the lure became overwhelming for me to come back home and to spend time with the people that I really love. And, with that said, there were some things, big things, that I wanted to get done as the Secretary of Energy. I’ve got a great team over there with Dan Brouillette as the number two, and the folks that make up these national labs. For instance, getting LNG into the European -- one of the most important projects that I think our country has. And I got tapped being the Secretary of Energy to lead that effort, to make sure that European countries—Poland, for instance, Ukraine, which had lived under Soviet oppression before, and Soviet Gas or excuse me, Russian gas, was being used as a weapon against those countries. It had been cut off a number of times in the Ukraine. So, it made abundant good sense for us to be able to be in that market, to clearly be able to tell American companies you can come here, you can work here. In Ukraine, in particular, there was some powerful messages of you got to have transparency, you got to have rule of law, you got to have the sanctity of contracts, you’ve got to end the corruption that we have seen there and we’ve heard about so many times. So, those conversations were had over a long period of time, with Ukraine, with Poroshenko and subsequently with the Zelensky administration. And we’re successful in getting those done. The nuclear side of things, civil, nuclear side of things, I’m leaving tomorrow for Brussels to go do a Small Monitor Reactor Conference, the first of its kind, so America can come back and take the premier place as a developer of the technology and to win this nuclear industry back to America. The third thing, and this one is really important to me if from a personal basis, I had great interaction with kids that had traumatic brain injury, concussions, post-traumatic stress, and standing up in office of artificial intelligence at the Department of Energy, I was able to get that finalized here within the last 45 days. So, it -- the timing was right for me. I got these big things done, the agency is in great shape, it’s going to continue to be focused on the areas that are important to America. So, it was a right time for me to come back home.
CARL QUINTANILLA: You told Fox this morning, it is not related to the House inquiry. You’ve also said you won’t comply with the subpoena on advice of counsel. Are there any circumstances under which you would comply?
JAMES RICHARD PERRY: Well, I think you may be a little bit ahead of yourself there until our -- the advice of counsel comes out at -- today. I don’t know what that answer is going to be actually. So, let’s just hold off on saying we are, we are or we aren’t going to address that issue until we get a final advice from our counsel.
JIM CRAMER: Secretary Perry, Jim Cramer here. It’s good to see you. I’ve been following nuclear energy for a long time, I have a lot of utility execs on "Mad Money.” There isn’t a soul that has said there will ever be a nuclear power plant built again in this country. We all know that it is a clean form of energy. But everyone says it is dead. What makes you think you can possibly revive it, when the guys who would be building it are rather -- they would rather put up windmills, they with rather do solar, and nuclear is dead?
JAMES RICHARD PERRY: Well, yeah, look, I hate to correct you, but we’re building a plant right now, Vogtle, down in Georgia.
JIM CRAMER: Sir, no, I know – sir, what are the over runs on Vogtle? What are the over runs on Vogtle? What s – I mean, come on, let’s be honest.
JAMES RICHARD PERRY: That’s not what you said. I mean, I don’t want to argue with you here. Let’s get straight here.
JIM CRAMER: They can’t finish Vogtle.
JAMES RICHARD PERRY: The idea that small model reactors -- just, you know, settle down here. Small model reactors have the potential to be substantially more economically safer. And so, you sound like the conventional wisdoms guys back 15 years ago that said peak oil. I hope you were not one of those, were you?
JIM CRAMER: No, come on. Sir, I have been pro – I’ve been in favor of nuclear energy forever. I lived next to nuclear plant in Sacramento. I was like five feet away when I was living in my car. And it didn’t affect me at all. Secretary Perry, really. I am so in favor of nuclear energy. But these guys are so negative.
JAMES RICHARD PERRY: I need to take you to the Small Moderate Reactor Conference in Brussels. Come go with me and talk about it and be passionate about it.
JIM CRAMER: I would be delighted.
JAMES RICHARD PERRY: It is a potential for America. We can get there.
JIM CRAMER: I hope so. Because boy, is it the cleanest form of energy. You are dead right. I wish these guys had more – I wish they believed in it more. And you’re so right, that it is the most sustainable form of energy.
DAVID FABER: Well, yeah. Wind is pretty good. Your home state of Texas does pretty well with wind, doesn’t it, Secretary Perry?
JAMES RICHARD PERRY: Well, it’s one of the things – matter of fact, Texas as a percentage has more renewable energy than Europe as a whole. So, you know, we are headed in the right direction. The President wants an all-of-the-above energy policy. And that’s the reason he promotes all form of energy and finding cleaner more efficient ways to develop all of those. So—and he’s a big proponent of us moving our--
DAVID FABER: Except windmill. He does not like windmills.
JAMES RICHARD PERRY: --nuclear-side. He’s not as big a fan of wind as I am.
DAVID FABER: What are you going to do when you step down? I would expect -- we cover obviously as you well know, and you and I have talked through the years down at Kyle Bass’ ranch a number of times through the years, I mean, you know corporate America fairly, do you see yourself serving on some boards? Is that kind of what you may choose to do?
JAMES RICHARD PERRY: You know, for the next -- until the end of the year, let me put it that way, I don’t know when I am going to step away from my job, but we are going to be, my wife and I will decide on what we want to do. I was reading my devotional this morning, and it said, you know, what’s the next big thing for you in your life? What’s the most important thing you are going to be, or are going to do? And I hope in front of me is the biggest thing that I will ever do. It may be something on the charitable side, it may be a prison ministry somewhere, it may be an opportunity to work with people, to bring power to the billion plus people in the world that don’t have electricity. There’s a -- you know, I got a lot of opportunities, I am a blessed man, I am healthy, I’ve got a fabulous wife to come home to. So, my life is pretty good.
CARL QUINTANILLA: Mr. Secretary, we hope you will come back often. It is good to see you. Congratulations on your run.
JAMES RICHARD PERRY: Yes, sir, thank you.
CARL QUINTANILLA: James Richard Perry joining us from Texas today.