Perry will lead agency he pledged to abolish during his presidential campaigns
♦By Rich Shumate, Chicken Fried Politics.com editor
WASHINGTON (CFP) — Former Texas Governor Rick Perry has been nominated to head the U.S. Department of Energy, despite his scathing criticism of President-elect Donald Trump when the two men battled for the Republican presidential nomination.
Perry had also pledged to eliminate the department during his two presidential campaigns, most notably in his infamous “ooops” moment during a 2011 debate when he was unable to remember Energy as one of the three departments he had pledged to abolish.
In a December 14 statement announcing Perry’s nomination, Trump said that Perry “created a business climate that produced millions of new jobs and lower energy prices in his state, and he will bring that same approach to our entire country.”
“My administration is going to make sure we take advantage of our huge natural resource deposits to make America energy independent and create vast new wealth for our nation, and Rick Perry is going to do an amazing job as the leader of that process,” Trump said.
In the same statement, Perry said he was “deeply humbled” to be nominated for the energy post.
“As the former governor of the nation’s largest energy producing state, I know American energy is critical to our economy and our security,” he said. “I look forward to engaging in a conversation about the development, stewardship and regulation of our energy resources, safeguarding our nuclear arsenal, and promoting an American energy policy that creates jobs and puts America first.”
Perry, 66, served 14 years as governor of Texas from 2000 to 2014, the longest tenure of any governor in state history. But he was unable to parlay that experience into a successful run for the White House in either 2012 or 2016.
During his campaign against Trump for the 2016 nomination, Perry called him a “cancer on conservatism” and said his campaign would lead the GOP to “perdition.” But last May, as Trump was poised to capture the nomination, Perry endorsed him, and he later campaigned for Trump.
As energy secretary, Perry would oversee a vast bureaucracy that runs the nation’s nuclear programs, markets power from federal hydroelectric projects and regulates the nation’s electric grid and natural gas pipelines.
The agency also has a research arm that, among other things, has conducted studies regarding climate change. Perry has said he does not think the science used by proponents of climate change to make their case that human activity is warming the planet is “settled,” and he has rejected the idea that carbon dioxide — a naturally occurring compound fundamental to human life — should be considered a pollutant.
Perry is also a supporter of the Keystone XL pipeline, a project that proponents of climate change have been fighting. President Obama stopped the final phase of that project in 2015; Trump has vowed to reverse that decision and let construction proceed.