Politics & Government

Donald Trump and Rick Perry have very different views of wind energy. Who’ll win?

Wind turbines, north of Roscoe, Texas, are part of one of the largest wind farms in North America. Wind farms grew in Texas under Gov. Rick Perry, who was recently tapped to be President-elect Donald Trump’s potential secretary of energy.
Wind turbines, north of Roscoe, Texas, are part of one of the largest wind farms in North America. Wind farms grew in Texas under Gov. Rick Perry, who was recently tapped to be President-elect Donald Trump’s potential secretary of energy. Fort Worth Star-Telegram

For years, Donald Trump railed against wind farms in Scotland, arguing that tall wind turbines would undermine Scotland’s natural beauty.

The president-elect also happens to own a golf course just north of Aberdeen, near a proposed wind farm off of Scotland’s east coast. He sent over a dozen letters to Scottish officials to voice his opposition to the project.

But the president-elect’s disdain for wind power goes beyond the disrupted view.

“The wind kills all your birds. All your birds, killed. You know, the environmentalists never talk about that,” Trump said during a campaign rally in August.

After the election, Trump reportedly encouraged British politician Nigel Farage to oppose offshore wind farms in the United Kingdom during a meeting at Trump Tower.

Wind power in the United States has benefited from billions in federal subsidies over the years, and Trump’s potential secretary of energy turned Texas into the country’s biggest wind producer with a combination of federal incentives, minimal state regulations and a vast expanse of wind-swept land.

Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry won’t be in charge of doling out federal subsides if he’s confirmed as energy secretary, but he will play a role in overseeing energy research and promoting wind power.

READ MORE: Rick Perry turned Texas into a wind powerhouse by getting out of the way

During Perry’s 14 years as governor, some of the biggest wind farms in the world popped up in West Texas, pumping millions in tax revenue into struggling small towns.

Over the years, Perry’s tone on wind energy has been markedly different from Trump’s.

“Texas doesn’t just believe in the potential of wind energy, we are reaping its benefits already,” Perry said during the American Wind Energy Conference in 2008. “People who talk about wind energy as a technology of the future clearly haven’t been to West Texas lately: the future of wind energy in Texas is now. I am proud that our state’s installed wind generation capacity leads the nation, a place we did not reach by accident.”

Perry, who has close ties with the oil and gas industry, is not considered a promoter of wind energy specifically, but he declined to implement regulations which would increase the cost of opening a wind farm in Texas.

“He has always been an energy omnivore,” Texas politics expert and Texas Christian University professor Jim Riddlesperger said of Perry. “He never saw the world as competition between oil and renewables. He was for anything that brought investment into Texas. As energy prices were high, wind energy, unlike some other renewables, could be a competitive way to produce energy.”

Alex Daugherty: 202-383-6049, @alextdaugherty

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