Brouillette before Blue Dog

Dan Brouillette, new secretary of the U.S. Department of Energy stands before U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy's Blue Dog painting

Louisiana’s Dan Brouillette is President Donald Trump’s new head of the U.S. Department of Energy. Recently, the U.S. Senate voted to approve his nomination to replace former Texas Gov. Rick Perry in the president’s cabinet.

Brouillette, who grew up in Paincourtville, was No. 2 at the energy department, and now he gets to lead it.

He’s not unfamiliar with oil and gas issues. Brouillette started in politics working for then-U.S. Rep. Billy Tauzin, R-Chackbay, who was one of the more influential members of Congress on oil and gas issues. U.S. Sens. Bill Cassidy of Baton Rouge and John N. Kennedy of Madisonville endorsed Brouillette and encouraged colleagues to vote for him. Kennedy called him a “rock star.” Added Kennedy, “He exercises power intelligently, not emotionally, and he will be extraordinary in this new role.”

The role includes oversight and promotion of domestic energy, including the oil and gas Louisiana produces. The department is responsible for 17 national scientific research labs and is a critical force when it comes to energy security and technology. Plus, the department controls a great deal of business and jobs with its $30 billion annual budget and thousands of employees and contractors. It has a key role in our state's major industry; it can't hurt to have a native of Louisiana in the job.

Brouillette is no stranger to working in Washington. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, called Brouillette “an accomplished professional, with an impressive record in public- and private-sector leadership.” He worked as a Ford Motor Co. vice president and served as senior vice president and head of public policy for financial services firm USAA before joining Trump’s administration. Brouillette previously worked for President George W. Bush as an assistant secretary between 2001 and 2003. In addition, he was a House Energy and Commerce Committee chief of staff.

Some Democrats didn’t want this nomination to proceed, largely because they weren’t satisfied with Brouillette’s responses to questions about the ongoing investigation into Trump’s Ukraine dealings and Perry’s role. But there was little they could do. He won confirmation 70-15. Of the Democrats who voted, 22 chose to set politics aside and endorsed him, as suggested by U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin, D-West Virginia. Only 15 senators voted against him. Eight other senators didn’t vote.

If Brouillette knows anything about Perry’s involvement and an energy department connection, he should speak up. Beyond that, he should focus on the huge task in front of him and make Louisiana proud.