Energy Secretary nominee Rick Perry said Thursday he regrets his 2011 call for the elimination of the agency he has been tapped to lead.
During a Republican presidential debate that year, Perry famously could not recall one of the three agencies he said he would eliminate if elected president in 2012. It was the Energy Department. The others were the Commerce and Education departments.
"My past statements, made over five years ago, about abolishing the Department of Energy do not reflect my current thinking," the former Texas governor told the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.
"In fact, after being briefed on so many of the vital functions of the Department of Energy, I regret recommending its elimination," he said. "If confirmed, I will enter this role excited and passionate about advocating and advancing the core missions of the DOE, drawing greater attention to the vital role played by the agency and the hard-working men and women who dedicate themselves in pursuit of these missions."
The Department of Energy maintains the nation's nuclear arsenal, manages cleanup related to nuclear energy and weapons testing, finances energy projects and conducts scientific research in strategic fields.