Perry out at Energy? Rumors fly as game of musical chairs continues

It’s truly hard to keep up with the game of musical chairs President Donald J. Trump is playing with members of his administration.

Sean Spicer was out, Anthony Scaramucci was in. Then Reince Priebus was left wandering aimlessly around the tarmac at Andrews Air Force base after Trump announced his replacement in a series of three tweets before Air Force One landed. By then, Trump had replaced Priebus with Gen. John Kelly, who previously had been running the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). Priebus’ SUV left the presidential motorcade and took Priebus on what we’re sure was an intensely sad ride home.

And now Bloomberg is now reporting that Kelly’s replacement at DHS could be…current Energy Secretary Rick Perry?

The mind boggles (and struggles to process all the changes, which are coming so fast it takes one’s breath away).

So should Perry be asked to vacate Energy to move to DHS (and Bloomberg further reports that it’s not clear he even wants that job, with Robert Haus, director of public affairs at the department, telling Bloomberg that “Secretary Perry is focused on the important mission of the Department of Energy. He’s honored to be mentioned, but he loves what he’s doing.”), with whom would Trump replace him?

As usual, no one can definitively say, given that Trump likes to be unconventional and surprise people. But at the time of Perry’s initial ascension, pv magazine published a shortlist of candidates that were viable contenders for the position:

Harold Hamm

Currently the CEO of Continental Resources (Motto: America’s Oil Champion), Hamm grew up in the oil business, working in the Oklahoma oil fields as a teenager and starting Continental at age 21.

He led the fight to eliminate the “40-year-old ban on U.S. crude oil exports, a feat that will lower U.S. gasoline prices by up to 13 cents a gallon, create 400,000 American jobs a year, increase GDP by 1%, and ensure America and our allies are never again held hostage by dictatorial regimes.”

(The reality is that after the ban was lifted in December 2015U.S. oil exports have actually gone down.)

Robert Grady

This venture capitalist seems perfect for the job. He worked with The Carlyle Group (whose murky investments are shielded from public scrutiny  in spite — or perhaps because — of all the well-known politicos who land there). He’s currently a partner at mid-market equity fund Gryphon Investors based in San Francisco, which almost guarantees he’s seen solar panels from his house.

A bonus? He does not appear to have any energy experience at all — even as an investor.

Myron Ebell

Ebell’s claim-to-fame is his religiously held belief that Climate Change is a fake and “silly” issue. As a result, he has stated he will waste no time dealing with something that doesn’t exist.

In fact, Ebell’s entire career has centered on Climate Change denial, starting with his work at conservative front groups Frontiers of Freedom, Frontiers of  Science (funded by ExxonMobil) and the Competitive Enterprise Institute.

At his last stop, Ebell and others devised a comprehensive communications plan designed to convince Americans Climate Change science is in dispute (it isn’t), a project that continues today. He has also loudly criticized the EPA’s Clean Power Plan and wants it scrapped.

Other names floated by the Trump transition team include Donald Hoffman (who runs a firm that cleans up nuclear waste), James Connaughton (who opposed the Kyoto Protocol as an advisor to President George W. Bush and is a former executive with Constellation Energy) and Kristine Svinicki (who has served as a commissioner of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission since 2008).

So far, there’s been no official speculation – even in the Bloomberg report – as to who will replace Perry at Energy if the shuffle does in fact happen. In fact, Bloomberg seems gobsmacked about Perry, who it says has not been a “seamless fit at Energy” (the understatement in that sentence is monumental) and that moving him to DHS might put him at odds with Trump, with whose immigration policy he disagrees.

But these names are all viable replacements – which means Trump will probably pick someone no one will see coming. Stay tuned.