Rick Perry warns US energy sector on verge of 'massive collapse' due to coronavirus pandemic

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Former Energy Secretary Rick Perry warned Tuesday on "Tucker Carlson Tonight" that the coronavirus pandemic has brought the United States' once-thriving oil and energy sector to the verge of a "massive collapse."

Sweeping restrictions on work and travel have brought industrial activity to a near- standstill. Perry explained that fewer cars on the road and fewer flights in the air translate to a major decrease in demand for oil, which is bad news for America's energy producers.

"We are on the verge of a massive collapse of an industry that we worked awfully hard over the course of the last three or four years to build up."

— Rick Perry, 'Tucker Carlson Tonight'

"Our capacity is full and the Saudis are flooding this market with cheap oil," Perry told host Tucker Carlson. "I'm telling you, we are on the verge of a massive collapse of an industry that we worked awfully hard over the course of the last three or four years to build up to the number one oil and gas producing country in the world, giving Americans some affordable energy resources.

"It's a driver of a massive amount of our American economy. There are some big companies out there, [but] there are independents out there that are the real buffer and if we were to lose that, if we woke up a year from now and there were five big companies because all these independents are going out of business and if there's a company called Aramco and a company called Rosneft [and] ExxonMobil, Chevron [and] BP, if that's it then I would suggest that would make a lot of Americans really nervous ."

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The former Texas governor also expressed concerns for union workers in Pennsylvania, Texas, and North Dakota, whose "entire future and taking care of their family and paying their mortgages is tied directly to the energy industry."

When Carlson questioned why the U.S. was allowing foreign oil to flood its refineries, Perry said it was an "incredibly important issue" that involves the national security of the country.

"Here's what I would do, and I would certainly give this advice to the president. I would for the next 60-90 days ... refine U.S. crude [and] U.S. crude only and that would give a buffer to the market and send a clear message that we are just not going to let foreign oil flow in here [and] bust our energy industry," Perry said.

"ttis is about our national security...about America's ability to defend ourselves."

— Rick Perry, 'Tucker Carlson Tonight'

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"And, here's the more important thing [that] everyone in the administration knows well ... this is about our national security," he continued. "This is about America's ability to defend ourselves. If our independent operators who have led the shale revolution, who have made America the number one gas producing country in the world, if we lost that, we would go back to 1974, 1975."

"I was a pilot in the United States Air Force at that period of time and I remember what that was like, where we were beholden to countries who didn't necessarily have our best interest in mind," Perry concluded. "We cannot afford that again."

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Perry's comments come one day after the Financial Times reported that U.S. crude oil prices had dropped below $20 a barrel, sinking to their lowest level in 18 years.