Rick Perry says US energy production in a ‘substantially better position’ than a decade ago

The world’s largest oil and gas producer is in a “substantially better position” when compared to a decade ago, according to the departing energy secretary.

In a farewell speech to Energy Department employees last week, Rick Perry claimed the U.S. had “achieved the magnificent goal of energy independence.”

His comments contrasted with data published by the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), an independent entity within the Energy Department.

On its website, the EIA states: “The United States produces a large share of the petroleum it consumes, but it still relies on imports to help meet demand.”

Speaking to CNBC’s Hadley Gamble in Dubai on Saturday, Perry said: “I don’t try to get up and stand on the ramparts and beat my chest and say the United States is the largest oil and gas producer in the world — which we are.”

“What is more important is that we are a ready supplier… We still import product, we still bring it into the United States for refining for instance. But, we are in a substantially better position than we were a decade ago. I take that as a great win for us,” Perry said.

The outgoing energy secretary was speaking to CNBC shortly before traveling to Saudi Arabia for the Future Investment Initiative (FII) next week.

The U.S. surpassed Russia in 2011 to become the world’s largest producer of natural gas and surpassed Saudi Arabia in 2018 to become the world’s largest producer of petroleum, according to the EIA.

“I don’t think I’ve ever said that we are completely and absolutely independent and that we don’t need anybody and thumb our nose at the rest of the world,” he continued.

“We are very proud that American technology, American innovation has us at this position of being this number one producer of this product. But, arguing about whether or not we are completely independent or not, I try not to be subject to that.”

Perry told CNBC on Saturday that he would leave his post on December 1, with deputy energy secretary Dan Brouillette poised to take the reins.

Impeachment inquiry

Last week, President Donald Trump confirmed the former Texas governor would step down from his role as energy secretary.

Speaking at a campaign rally in Dallas on Oct. 17, the U.S. president said Perry “couldn’t have done a better job” and thanked him for his work.

Perry has largely avoided the headlines since joining the Trump administration in 2017. But, in recent weeks, he has become entangled in the Democratic-led impeachment probe into Trump’s actions involving Ukraine.

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Perry was one of three officials who had influence over U.S. policy on Ukraine and lawmakers are now scrutinizing whether he was involved in efforts to put pressure on the country’s president to investigate Trump’s potential 2020 electoral rival, Joe Biden.

Trump told House Republicans that Perry had urged him to take a now-infamous July call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, Axios reported earlier this month, citing three unnamed sources.

Perry’s office has since said that he wanted the president to take the call, which has become the focus of the impeachment inquiry, to discuss energy-related matters.

— CNBC’s Tucker Higgins contributed to this article.

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