© Greg Nash
LUSBY, Md. — Energy Secretary Rick PerryRick PerryRepublicans are the 21st-century Know-Nothing Party College football move rocks Texas legislature Trump tries to spin failed Texas endorsement: 'This was a win' MORE said U.S. allies and energy companies don’t need to worry about President TrumpDonald TrumpCapitol fencing starts coming down after 'Justice for J6' rally Netanyahu suggests Biden fell asleep in meeting with Israeli PM Aides try to keep Biden away from unscripted events or long interviews, book claims MORE’s trade policies.
Speaking to reporters Thursday before a dedication ceremony for a massive liquefied natural gas (LNG) export facility built by Dominion Energy, Perry recognized concerns internationally about Trump’s trade battles with China, the European Union, Canada, Mexico and other major trading partners.
But the Energy Secretary said there was nothing to worry about.
“The president is a disruptor. He doesn’t make any apologies for that. I don’t get, maybe, as concerned about where the markets are going to be on any given day, what the president says or tweets,” Perry said, standing before the massive, labyrinthine system owned by Dominion Energy that freezes the gas to around negative 260 degrees Fahrenheit to increase its energy density.
“Here’s the facts: he is negotiating every day to put America in a stronger position economically. I think we all recognize that some of these trade agreements that we’ve had in the past, it’s time to renegotiate them,” Perry said.
Perry then specifically named the two-decade-old North American Free Trade Agreement, which removed many barriers to trade with Mexico and Canada and that Trump is trying to renegotiate.
“The president always sets the bar really high. And it makes some people nervous. But that’s OK,” Perry continued.
Perry also used the visit to boast about Trump’s announcement Wednesday that the European Union would seek to greatly increase its LNG imports from the United States, after earlier meeting with European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker in the White House.
“It is a new day,” Perry said. “It is, I think, a very bright day from the standpoint of America’s standpoint, our national security, and of course being able to send a message to our allies that they can count on us, no strings attached, and that U.S. energy will be flowing their way.”
Perry also sought to reassure the domestic energy industry — including a gas industry that has been pushing for federal officials to approve exports for years — that the administration understands the pain they’re feeling from steel tariffs, uncertainty about trade and other problems.
“If you have tariffs that are basically saying ‘look, China, you have been unfairly subsidizing the steel industry and it’s hurting our domestic producers,’ the president is addressing that,” said Perry, the former governor of Texas and two-time presidential candidate.
“We’re working our way through this and I don’t have any concerns that the president’s role is to push competition.”
The Cove Point LNG facility, on the shore of the Chesapeake Bay 50 miles from Washington, D.C., started commercial export operations in April. The plan's major customers will be Japan’s Tokyo Gas Co., Sumitomo Corp., Kansai Electric Power Co., as well as India’s Gail Ltd.
The facility had been there for decades, operating as an import terminal, but Dominion decided to enter the export market seven years ago to take advantage of the gas boom caused by fracking and other unconventional drilling methods.
It is only the second facility to export LNG from the contiguous United States. The other, the Sabine Pass plant in Louisiana, started shipping gas in 2016.
Cove Point has faced fierce protests from nearby residents and activists, who object to it on environment and climate grounds, among other reasons. Protesters rallied just outside the plant’s gates Thursday during Perry’s visit as well.