Energy Secretary Rick Perry Makes Massive Mistake During Visit To Coal Power Plant


Robin Andrews

Science & Policy Writer

Perry speaking in the White House Press Room back in June. Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post via Getty Images

Science, math, and numbers are not the Trump administration’s strong points, to put it lightly. Forget all their climate change denial for a second – what about that time they made a $2 trillion error in their notoriously anti-science federal budget? It’s funny except for the fact that they’re running the country.

Rick Perry is arguably the most comically inept member of this band of populists. He regularly forgets the name and purpose of the Department of Energy (DoE), of which he – an animal husbandry expert – is the head of. He recently denied the basic science behind carbon dioxide. Now, during a tour of a coal-fired power plant, it appears that he’s not quite sure how capitalism works either.


As reported by Axios, during the walkabout in West Virginia, Perry was heard to have said: “Here’s a little economics lesson: supply and demand. You put the supply out there and the demand will follow.”


In this sense, the pro-coal Perry was clearly trying to say that if you build more coal plants and get more coal out of the ground, people will want it and use it. This, as you might have suspected, is not how coal-based supply and demand works. In fact, it’s not how supply and demand works at all.

Let’s put it this way. Say a company is offering you a soap that makes your hands smell of rotten eggs. You wouldn’t want this, and neither would anyone else. The company then produces warehouse-filling quantities of their fart-infused soap, because according to Perry, the more you produce of something, the more people want to buy it.

Obviously, this company would go bankrupt very soon.


Similarly, if you do all you can to prop up the failing coal industry, and get as much coal out of the ground as possible, it doesn’t mean that people will use this extra coal.

Coal is dirty, and is the most carbon-rich fossil fuel there is. The rest of the world is beginning to reject coal in favor of the proliferating renewable energy sector, and at least twelve American states are too. Throwing coal in people’s faces – or making up a crazy new theory of economics – is not going to change that.


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