Energy Secretary Rick Perry implored energy industry leaders on Wednesday to embrace a new era of innovation enabled by fewer regulations, fossil-fuel development and Trump tax cuts.
Perry said the United States can achieve this future only by casting aside the "energy pessimism" of past generations, which held that the United States could not produce new fossil fuels cleanly or affordably.
"Energy security is a road map to economic prosperity," he said at IHS Markit's CERAWeek in Houston. "It's a road map that our nation has tried to follow, though we've had some detours along the way. But today, we have the opportunity to reaffirm a new direction. I call it the new energy realism."
At the heart of this "new energy realism" is prioritizing innovation over regulation. He said the Trump administration is enabling innovation by streamlining the federal permitting process, cutting corporate taxes and rolling back rules governing the sector.
President Donald Trump has pursued an ambitious campaign to scrap Obama-era regulations meant to reduce planet-warming emissions and mitigate the impacts of climate change. Perry has questioned the scientific consensus that carbon dioxide emissions from human activity are the primary driver of climate change.
Perry's new term — the "new energy realism" — added another phrase to the growing lexicon of the Trump administration, which has already promoted an "America First Energy policy" and says it will pursue "energy dominance" rather than simply energy independence.
The "new energy realism" is also underscored by an era of American energy abundance, Perry said.
He touted technological innovations like hydraulic fracturing, which allows U.S. drillers to extract oil and gas from rock formations. This and other advances have pushed American oil and gas output to record highs and fueled a revival of U.S. energy exports.
This marks a departure from the original energy realists of the 1970s who forecast a permanent era of energy shortage in America, according to Perry.
"Truth be told we had no shortage of energy. What we had was a shortage of imagination and a loss of confidence in our ability to innovate," he said.
With crude oil and natural gas flowing to foreign destinations in greater volumes, the United States can make sure other nations don't have to "tolerate the intolerable," Perry said.
The world can progress toward a zero-emissions world without "draining the growth out of our developed nations or dooming developing nations to a future of poverty and want," he said.
At a press conference, Perry said it was immoral to withhold fossil fuel-powered electricity from the many people around the world who do not have access to power.
"You look those people in the eye and say, sorry you can't have electricity because we've decided that fossil fuels are bad," he said.
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