Energy Secretary? My Value’s in Congress, Rep. Cramer Says

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By Rachel Leven and Dean Scott

Dec. 1 — Congressman Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.) is prepared to remain in Congress and—he hopes—take the lead role there in moving the president-elect’s energy agenda, he told Bloomberg BNA.

“I’ve been very clear with the transition team and with him, the president-elect, that I would very much look forward to carrying the Trump energy agenda in the Congress,” said Cramer, who is considered to be in the running for President-elect Donald Trump’s energy secretary.

Cramer, in a wide-ranging interview with Bloomberg BNA late Nov. 30, said he would accept the offer to lead the Energy Department, but he’s leaning toward staying in Congress. “I’ve prepared myself for that for four years, I’ve helped prepare him for it for the last several months and would very much love that opportunity.”

Republicans’ energy agenda would include regulatory reforms such as rolling back the Clean Power Plan and making landmark environmental laws “more prescriptive” but would leave solar and wind energy tax credits untouched, Cramer said.

Despite Trump’s recent comments that he would have an open mind on the Paris climate agreement, the congressman, who served as an early energy adviser to Trump during his campaign, said it is important to take the U.S. out of the international deal.

Immediate Work

In the immediate future, the new House Republican Steering Committee member said the House should hold off making a deal on the energy bill this Congress, in favor of getting a better deal next session. However, Cramer said Congress shouldn’t wait until next year to send Flint, Mich., infrastructure funds.

“We as a conference and as a Congress, there’s some obligation there,” Cramer said of sending funding to Flint, where residents can’t drink unfiltered drinking water due to extreme lead contamination. “It’s been a promise implied, if not literally made, so we ought to do something.”

The comments come as Trump builds his executive team for the DOE, the Interior Department and the Environmental Protection Agency.

Cramer was an early Trump supporter, first backing the Republican in April. He has a seat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee but is a relatively junior member in the House, where he has served only since 2013.

Still in Energy Secretary Race

Even as Cramer appeared to distance himself the energy secretary position, he appeared to remain in the running for the job.

At least one potential candidate, Harold Hamm, chief executive officer of Continental Resources, took himself out of the running Dec. 1 and said the job should go to Cramer. Hamm, also an energy adviser to Trump, told CNBC that Cramer is “a great guy, and he would be a perfect candidate, as well. I’ve put his name forward.”

But Cramer said he looked forward to executing Trump’s campaign promises from Congress, particularly after the North Dakota Republican this week landed a coveted spot on the Republican Steering Committee. It decides chairmanships and committee membership.

Among those campaign promises are rolling back major Obama administration regulations and passing deregulatory measures that ensure regulatory agencies give broader consideration to impacts on jobs and the economy, Cramer said. He mentioned specifically a measure known as the REINS (Regulations From the Executive in Need of Scrutiny) Act that would require congressional approval of all major rules; such legislation is more likely to be signed into law with Trump in the White House.

Cramer also wants to make landmark environmental laws such as the Clean Air Act more clearly prescribe what actions are needed, “so that we don’t leave so much vague opportunity for interpretation by courts that really aren’t well positioned to make those decisions.”

Paris Agreement, Senate Vote

Cramer said Trump will face pressure from Republicans on Capitol Hill to target the 2015 Paris climate pact. “The rollback of the Paris climate accord—the removal of the U.S. from that—is important. Now I know [Trump] has said some things” suggesting he might show more flexibility, “but I still think it’s important,” Cramer said.

“I think at the very minimum we owe it to our country, to our Constitution and to our traditions to bring the accord up for a ratification vote over in the Senate. I think failure to do that in many respects is a dereliction of our constitutional duty as a nation,” Cramer said.

To contact the reporters on this story: Rachel Leven in Washington, D.C., at rleven@bna.com; Dean Scott in Washington, D.C., at DScott@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Larry Pearl at lpearl@bna.com

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