Energy Secretary Rick Perry said Wednesday that he would "absolutely" have a conversation with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., about the Green New Deal.
"I think having a conversation about the Green New Deal is a good thing — and to do it in a thoughtful and a polite and a respectful way," Perry said during a panel at CERAWeek by IHS Markit.
Ocasio-Cortez has so far only released a broad sketch of the Green New Deal, not a full policy blueprint. Its goals include generating 100 percent of U.S. electric power from renewable sources, slashing greenhouse gas emissions and largely phasing oil out of the transportation sector — all within 10 years.
"Just because someone doesn't agree with what I believe in, or I don't agree with their take, doesn't mean we don't need to continue to have a conversation," Perry said. "I think it's wise to have those."
Perry's stance on the firebrand freshman lawmaker's ambitious policy proposal clashes with comments made by other members of his administration — including his boss, President Donald Trump, who appointed Perry to the role.
Trump has attacked the Green New Deal as a threat to U.S. industries and Americans' liberties.
"It would shut down American energy, which I don't think the people in Texas are going to be happy with," Trump said in a speech in February.
Some of Perry's fellow Republicans in Congress have also dismissed Ocasio-Cortez's proposal as a pipe dream and a financial quagmire.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., recently said he plans to hold a vote on the resolution in support of the Green New Deal. That move was widely seen as a bid to highlight divisions among Democrats over the proposal.
Perry, in response to CNBC's question at a news conference following the panel, said he had a conversation with a young entrepreneur a few days ago about setting up a meeting with Ocasio-Cortez.
"I don't think that the representative should be castigated and pushed aside just on the face of her comments relative to that she wants to live in a place where there's clean air and clean water. So do I," he said.
Perry said one of the things he would like to speak to Ocasio-Cortez about is how U.S. liquefied natural gas can help reduce carbon emissions.
The boom in U.S. natural gas production is one of the biggest factors in the decline of coal in America's power sector. The U.S. is now aiming to become a major exporter of LNG, or natural gas chilled to liquid form for transport overseas.
Perry said he would like to talk to Ocasio-Cortez about exporting LNG to places such as China and India to help them bring down their emissions. Those countries could also benefit from implementing technologies to capture and store carbon emissions because they are still burning coal in power plants, he said.
"I think she and I would both say those are good goals," Perry said.
He added: "There are going to be places that we disagree, but the idea we have to be disagreeable — I'm sorry, but I've been in this business a spell and I'd rather be agreeable."