WASHINGTON — The Senate on Monday confirmed Dan Brouillette, a former lobbyist for Ford Motor Co., to be President Donald Trump’s second secretary of energy, replacing Rick Perry, who has become embroiled in the impeachment proceedings against Trump.
Senators voted 70-15 in favor of Brouillette’s confirmation. Several Democrats, including Joe Manchin III of West Virginia, Tom Udall of New Mexico and Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, joined Republicans in approving him.
Since 2017, Brouillette has been Perry’s second in command at the Department of Energy. He has pressed the Trump administration’s policy of “energy dominance,” which includes the rapid expansion oil and gas drilling and a bolstering of U.S. fossil fuel exports.
“I’m proud to have been a small part of the incredible success we have seen in American energy,” Brouillette told lawmakers at his Senate confirmation hearing in November.
While Brouillette sailed through a confirmation vote before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee last month, lawmakers on Monday criticized him for not answering questions about Perry’s dealings in Ukraine. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., said that Brouillette “failed to provide substantive answers to key questions about Mr. Perry’s dealings.” He called Brouillette’s lack of response a “full-court stonewall.”
Brouillette has promised to fight for the Department of Energy’s budget, even though the administration in the past has proposed cutting some agency programs by more than half and eliminating key research and development programs like the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy. The bulk of the department’s budget goes to nuclear weapons research, development, maintenance and cleanup.
He also has walked a fine line on climate change. Brouillette has described planetary warming as “something we need to work on” but has questioned the scientific consensus that climate change poses a serious threat. He has promoted statistics that show U.S. emissions have fallen 13% since 2005, but he also is a critic of the Paris Agreement, a pledge among nearly every nation to curb emissions that Trump intends to abandon.
Brouillette was chief of staff to the House Energy and Commerce Committee and was assistant secretary of energy for congressional and intergovernmental affairs in the George W. Bush administration.