WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Senate on Monday confirmed Dan Brouillette, a former top lobbyist for Ford Motor Co (F.N) who believes fossil fuels will power a large part of world energy needs for many decades, as President Donald Trump’s second energy secretary.
The Republican-controlled Senate confirmed Brouillette 70-15.
Brouillette will replace Rick Perry, who stepped down on Sunday while at the center of Trump’s impeachment probe in the U.S. House of Representatives for his role as one of the “three amigos” who ran a side foreign policy in Ukraine, under Trump’s personal lawyer Rudy Giuliani. Perry has said he did nothing wrong and his role in Ukraine centered on natural gas and coal.
Brouillette, 57, faced questions at his confirmation hearing last month from Democratic Senator Ron Wyden about his own involvement with Ukraine. He said his role was focused on how U.S. energy supplies could help the country find alternatives to fuel from Russia.
Wyden, who voted against Brouillette, asked what the rush was to confirm him, while questions linger about the role of Trump officials in Ukraine.
Senator Joe Manchin, a Democrat from coal-producing West Virginia, said ahead of the vote that Brouillette was “really the right person (at the) right time for this job.”
Brouillette, a member of Louisiana’s Mineral and Energy Board from 2013 to 2016, is expected to firmly support Trump’s policy of maximizing production of oil, natural gas and coal, offering them for sale abroad, and rolling back regulations.
Before being a Louisiana state energy regulator, Brouillette was an assistant secretary for congressional and intergovernmental affairs at the Energy Department under former President George W. Bush.
Brouillette said last month he backs technologies to capture carbon dioxide from fossil fuels and burying the gas linked to climate change underground, because oil, gas and coal would provide a large portion of energy needs for 40 to 50 years.
“We have to get these technologies off the shelf and into the market,” Brouillette said at his confirmation hearing.
He also supports nuclear power plants, but it is not clear how the Department of Energy can help reactors that are at risk of closing due to stiff competition from a glut of cheap natural gas and from falling costs for wind and solar power.
Reporting by Timothy Gardner; Editing by Marguerita Choy and Bill Berkrot