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Ex-Energy Secretary Perry stumps for Laxalt in Las Vegas

Updated September 7, 2022 - 4:38 pm

Former U.S. Energy Secretary and Texas Gov. Rick Perry stumped for ex-Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt on Wednesday, saying Laxalt will support the fossil fuel industry and bring the U.S. toward energy independence if he wins a seat in the U.S. Senate.

At the campaign event at Rebel Oil and Gas, where jets from Nellis Air Force Base flew overhead and oil tanker trucks pulled in and out, Perry and Laxalt discussed what policies the Biden administration — and Laxalt’s Democratic opponent Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto — implemented that worsened energy independence.

“America is put in a position of not being as powerful as we could be and we’re benevolent to friends around the world, but when the Russians, the Chinese, the Iranians and the North Koreans are the ones that are controlling the energy process, it’s put America and her allies in jeopardy,” Perry said.

Reporters who attended the event were not permitted to ask questions.

Perry criticized Biden for dipping into federal oil reserves to lower gas prices, saying that the national reserves are for natural disasters and should not be used to manipulate the market. The move only drove down the prices a few cents, he said. Laxalt called Biden’s move “election year Band-Aids.”

In the U.S. gas prices hit a high in June at $5.107 but came down to $3.85 in September, according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration. A month ago Las Vegas’s average gas price was $4.923, and the current average is $4.806, according to AAA.

During the Trump administration, gas prices were affordable, and the administration “respected the fossil fuel industry,” Perry said.

“America was an excess producer of fossil fuels in the last four years under the Trump administration,” Perry said. “The president went out and said, ‘We want you to deliver product for not just the American people but for the world.’”

Fixing the blame

Presidents, however, have very little to do with controlling gas prices, according to factcheck.org, as prices are mostly set on the price of crude oil determined on a global market.

Laxalt and Perry blamed the increase in the cost of gas on Biden shutting down the Keystone XL pipeline and instituting more regulations on the industry. Laxalt also said that the Biden administration’s energy dependency on Middle Eastern countries has prolonged war in that area and that Cortez Masto repeatedly voted to block drilling on federal lands.

In response, her campaign said the senator recently passed legislation to guarantee new drilling opportunities in Alaska and the Gulf of Mexico that Biden canceled in May “while also delivering funding to create clean energy jobs in Nevada.”

The Keystone XL pipeline was designed to transport crude oil from Canada across the U.S., but it wasn’t set to be operational until 2023, according to Forbes. Much of that oil was going to go to the Gulf Coast, according to The Washington Post.

The Trump administration’s State Department said in 2017 that approving the pipeline would have only a “minimal” effect on the price of gasoline as gas prices are largely driven by “global market factors,” according to The Washington Post.

Laxalt also brought up the complexity of the government encouraging the use of electric vehicles, such as California announcing it plans to ban new gas cars by 2035, while energy companies during heat waves ask people to lower their use of energy, including limiting the charging of electric vehicles.

NV Energy recently sent alerts to Nevadans encouraging them to reduce energy usage between 5 and 8 p.m. by adjusting their thermostats to 78 degrees and avoiding using large electrical appliances and charging electric vehicles. Laxalt said it is a “dangerous state.”

“Most states don’t have rolling blackouts,” Laxalt said. “And so these are direct results of policy, this kind of policy. Does anybody here want to be forced to keep their thermostat at 80 degrees in the middle of summer?”

Laxalt said the Biden administration’s encouragement for people to get an electric vehicle is “out of touch” because many people cannot afford them.

“We should always retain the choice of whether we’re going to drive an electric vehicle or gasoline-powered vehicle,” Laxalt said. “And so this path is dangerous.”

Jason Case, vice president of operations for Rebel Oil Company, said Wednesday the company does not have anything against green energy.

“We’re proponents of green energy,” Case said. “What we’re not in favor of is governments deciding who winners and losers are. I don’t think that’s the way we approach it. I think that markets and innovation need to make that decision.”

Nuclear waste

Cortez Masto’s campaign criticized Perry for pushing to dump nuclear waste at Yucca Mountain and for shipping plutonium to the state during the Trump administration.

“Adam Laxalt is campaigning with a politician who has led efforts to turn Nevada into a nuclear dumping ground and secretly shipped plutonium into the state,” said campaign spokesman Josh Marcus-Blank in the statement. “It was Senator Cortez Masto who successfully blocked Laxalt’s ally from reopening Yucca and forced him to remove the dangerous materials he shipped to the state because, unlike Laxalt, she’s always fighting for Nevada.”

Laxalt said Wednesday that as attorney general he sued the Trump administration to halt Yucca Mountain and sued when uranium shipments came in. He sued the Energy Department in Texas over the Yucca Mountain licensing process and won, and he filed a motion for injunction to stop the plutonium shipments in November 2018 before his term as attorney general ended. Laxalt also had a task force of lawyers meet on a weekly basis to fight against the Yucca Mountain licensing, his communications director Courtney Holland said.

“Yeah, I stood with Nevada those four years against an administration I otherwise supported,” Laxalt said, while criticizing Cortez Masto for agreeing with Biden “95 percent of the time.”

FiveThirtyEight.com found that Cortez Masto votes with Biden’s position 92.7 percent of the time.

For a Democrat, however, Cortez Masto’s voting record is lower than others. By comparison, Sen. Cory Booker, D-N.J., votes with Biden 96.4 percent of the time and Chris Coons, D-Del., votes 100 percent with Biden. In fact, only three Democratic senators — Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Jon Tester of Montana and Bernie Sanders of Vermont — voted with Biden less than Cortez Masto and fellow Nevada Sen. Jackie Rosen, who also ranked at 92.7 percent.

Cortez Masto recently disagreed with Biden about his student loan forgiveness decision and his decision to lift the Trump-era immigration policy known as Title 42.

Contact Jessica Hill at jehill@reviewjournal.com. Follow @jess_hillyeah on Twitter.

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