Opinion: Remember when Rick Perry tried to poach Tesla? California is returning the favor with his climate scientists

Energy Secretary Rick Perry, left, listens as President Donald Trump speaks during meeting in the Cabinet Room of the White House in Washington on March 13.
(Andrew Harnik / Associated Press)

“Payback’s a bitch, Secretary Perry.”

That’s what I imagine California Gov. Jerry Brown chortling to himself over the news that his Public Utilities Commission president is heading to D.C. to recruit climate scientists at the federal agency the former Texas governor now runs.

Rick Perry famously visited California to poach jobs in 2013, encouraging businesses to dump the Golden State’s red tape for Texas’ “low taxes, sensible regulation and fair legal system.”

Perry returned the following year and seemed to set his sights on Tesla, which was looking for a location to build a battery plant (Nevada won.) It’s not clear whether Perry hooked any company that wasn’t already thinking about leaving the state, but it did seem to irritate Brown, who once brushed off Perry’s recruiting efforts as “barely a fart.”


But maybe Brown was taking notes, because Michael Picker — his appointee to head the Public Utilities Commission — seems to have pulled a move right out of the Rick Perry poaching playbook.

On Wednesday, Picker will be passing out fliers in front of Perry’s new place of employment, the U.S. Department of Energy, listing job openings in various state agencies that work on climate change. On Thursday, he will head to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, offering a ray of hope to beleaguered climate change scientists that there’s a place that still cares about greenhouse gas emissions.

“If climate scientists and experts want the opportunity to continuing doing important work for the good of our planet, my message is simple: Come West, California is hiring,” Picker said in a statement posted on Twitter.


And no worries if this stunt registers more than a fart. Here in California, we still believe in clearing the air.

Follow me @marielgarzaLAT