The Houston Chronicle editorial board missed the mark in its recent criticism of our outgoing Secretary of Energy, slamming Rick Perry for—get this—doing his job.

“It’s clear that promoting fossil fuels, especially coal, took up far more time than it should have,” wrote the editorial board, “for someone whose job also includes developing energy alternatives.”

This assessment couldn’t be further from the truth. The energy czar of the world’s leading energy-producing nation should be unashamed of supporting the citizens who produce and export the fuels that drive our vibrant economy. Our federal government should empower the energy industry, including all forms of energy, to promote human flourishing and prosperity worldwide. As energy secretary, Rick Perry truly pursued an “all of the above” energy strategy.

Most notably, Perry shepherded the United States into global leadership in liquefied natural gas, one of the cleanest and most efficient energy sources, brokering a $2.5 billion deal with India and visiting nearly every possible trading partner to promote the benefits of American LNG. Perry’s “freedom gas” doesn’t just create jobs—it bolsters our national security and liberates our allies from dependence on militant, unstable nations.

The U.S. Department of Energy was created in 1977 because “increasing dependence on foreign energy supplies present[ed] a serious threat to the national security of the United States and to the health, safety and welfare of its citizens.” On Perry’s watch, America is slated to achieve the department’s goal and become a net energy exporter—one step closer to true energy independence—in just a few weeks.

Contrary to the Chronicle’s claims, it would be folly to blindly discard the fuels that have created so much prosperity on a political whim before alternatives are ready. Fossil fuels remain the cheapest, most reliable, and most abundant source of energy currently available—the only real option in the foreseeable future to continue our trajectory of economic growth and ensure a high quality of life for all Americans.

The advent of energy accessible to all has grown our gross domestic product by nearly twenty-fold in the last 50 years alone. Worldwide, the number of people living in “extreme poverty” has dipped below 10 percent, an incredible advancement for humankind.

Around the world, people are living longer, healthier lives than ever. It’s no coincidence that life expectancies average just 60 years in sub-Saharan Africa, where less than half the population has any access to electricity and many likely lack reliable electricity. Similarly, infant mortality rates in the region are nearly nine times those in the United States.

And a strong energy industry doesn’t only benefit human flourishing; it also supports clean air and water. Any cursory review of government environmental data reveals the little-acknowledged truth that environmental quality and access to energy go hand in hand. Over the last 50 years, the United States has cut the top six pollutants by 74%—and all signs point to that trend continuing to improve. Smog and toxic air pollution, like the literally crippling haze in India are nearly nonexistent in America thanks to incredible innovations in environmental technology, from catalytic converters in our cars to bag houses in coal plants. And reliable electricity makes scientific innovation possible.

Many on the left will argue that the energy secretary should use his position to exclusively promote renewables, which are purported to be more environmentally conscious. But to place any more proverbial eggs in the renewable basket would take America down the disastrous path of the failed “100% renewable” policies in places like Germany, Denmark, and even Georgetown, Texas. To date, none of these policies have breached 50% renewable, and costs have spiked dramatically.

Until renewable energy technology dramatically improves (including storage technology), 100% renewable isn’t doable, and its reputation for climate friendliness is misleading. According to data models used by the United Nations’ climate alarmists, even switching every lightbulb, server, and vehicle in America to wind or solar power would yield less than two-tenths of a degree difference.

Instead of using the American people’s hard-earned tax dollars to prop up weak and inefficient energy sources that provide a mere fraction of our power, the federal government should continue along the path of prosperity—unleashing the power of the free market to innovate, experiment, and benefit the American people without picking winners and losers with our money.

America should be a champion of energy. Rick Perry’s years of service both to Texas and the nation ensure it has reached that status—and that its future is bright.