(In 8th paragraph, corrects to say Perry would replace Ernest
Moniz, not Steven Chu))
WASHINGTON Dec 14 President-elect Donald Trump
on Wednesday named former Texas Governor Rick Perry to head the
U.S. Department of Energy, handing the job to a climate change
skeptic with close ties to the oil industry who once proposed
abolishing the department.
The choice adds to a list of drilling proponents who have
been tapped for top jobs in Trump's administration, pleasing an
industry eager for expansion but worrying environmental groups
concerned by the U.S. role in global climate change.
Trump, who takes office on Jan. 20, has made energy policy a
central issue in his agenda.
He has promised to revive oil and gas drilling and coal
mining by cutting back on federal regulations. He also has said
he would pull the United States out of a global deal to curb
emissions of carbon dioxide, which an overwhelming number of
scientists say contribute to changes to the climate that are
leading to sea level rise, droughts and more frequent violent
In a statement from Trump's transition team, the
president-elect cited Perry's tenure leading Texas, the nation's
second most populous state and a major producer of oil, gas and
wind power, from 2000 until 2015.
Trump said in the statement 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 as secretary of energy."
Perry, a one-time presidential rival and critic of Trump who
unsuccessfully sought the Republican nomination in 2016 and
2012, welcomed the planned nomination, which requires Senate
Perry would replace Ernest Moniz, a physicist who was one of
the chief negotiators in last year's Iran nuclear deal while
energy secretary. The department is responsible for U.S. energy
policy and oversees the nation's nuclear weapons program.
On Tuesday, Trump named Rex Tillerson, chief executive of
oil giant Exxon Mobil Corp, as secretary of state. His
pick for the Environmental Protection Agency is Oklahoma
Attorney General Scott Pruitt, an ardent opponent of Democratic
President Barack Obama's measures to curb climate change.
Joseph Hall, a partner at the international law firm Dorsey
& Whitney, which represents energy clients, said the Perry pick
was a good sign for industry.
"I suspect Perry will be well received by the energy
sector," Hall said. "He understands carbon policy, the oil and
gas business and generation and transmission development."
"If confirmed, in the short term, I would look for
additional thought leadership from the Department of Energy on
carbon capture and sequestration development and technologies as
a mechanism to facilitate the use of domestic fossil fuels,"
After his tenure as Texas governor, Perry joined the board
of directors of Energy Transfer Partners, a Texas-based
company building the Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota that
has been stalled by protests by the Standing Rock Sioux tribe
Trump's team has said it would review the U.S. government's
decision to delay the pipeline's final completion once he takes
office next month.
Perry has also said he believes the science around climate
change is not yet settled, and has referred to himself as a
climate change skeptic.
Anthony Scaramucci, a member of the Trump transition team's
executive committee, said the president-elect was focused on
preserving the environment as well as boosting the nation's
"Whether you believe in climate change or not, we want clean
air, we want clean water for the American people. What we also
want is energy independence," Scaramucci told CNN in an
If Perry's nomination is confirmed by the U.S. Senate, he
would be in charge of a federal department that he had proposed
eliminating during his bid for the 2012 Republican presidential
During a November 2011 Republican presidential candidate
debate, Perry could not remember all of the three Cabinet-level
departments he wanted to eliminate.
After mentioning the departments of commerce and education,
he said, "I can't. The third one, I can't. Sorry. Oops." A few
minutes later in the debate Perry said with a laugh, "By the way
that was the Department of Energy I was reaching for a while
Billionaire environmental activist Tom Steyer, who backed
Trump's Democratic opponent Hillary Clinton in the Nov. 8
election, said he hoped Perry's nomination would be blocked.
"Trump no longer has to abolish departments. He can
dismantle them from within," Steyer said. "It's now up to the
Senate to defend our health, our economy and our democracy by
defeating this nomination."
(Reporting by Susan Heavey and Steve Holland; Writing by
Richard Valdmanis; Editing by Chizu Nomiyama and Will Dunham)