WASHINGTON Dec 13 President-elect Donald Trump
has chosen former Texas Governor Rick Perry to head the U.S.
Department of Energy, a transition official said, putting him in
charge of the agency he proposed eliminating during his bid for
the 2012 Republican presidential nomination.
The choice, confirmed late on Monday by the official, adds
to the list of oil drilling advocates skeptical about climate
change who have been picked for senior positions in Trump's
Cabinet. The selections have worried environmentalists but
cheered an industry eager for expansion.
Perry's proposal to scrap the Energy Department caused what
has become known as his "oops" moment during a November 2011
debate when he could not remember all the Cabinet-level
departments he wanted to eliminate.
"It's three agencies of government when I get there that are
gone: commerce, education and the um, what's the third one
there? Let's see," Perry said.
His debate opponents tried to prod his memory but Perry
ultimately gave up, saying, "I can't. The third one, I can't.
Perry, who also briefly ran in the 2016 presidential race,
would have to be confirmed by the Senate to head the Energy
Department, which is responsible for U.S. energy policy and
oversees the nation's nuclear weapons program.
Perry served as governor of Texas, a leading oil-producing
state, from 2000 when he succeeded President George W. Bush
until 2015. In his unsuccessful presidential runs, he touted his
record of job creation in the second-most-populous state.
Perry was a fierce critic of Trump last year before dropping
out of the race, calling him "a cancer on conservatism" who
offered "a toxic mix of demagoguery and mean-spiritedness and
Trump also had harsh things to say about Perry during the
campaign, even belittling his eye glasses by saying, "He put on
glasses so people will think he's smart."
Once Trump secured the nomination, Perry endorsed him as
"the people's choice."
If Perry gets the job, it would be further indication that
the incoming Trump administration may be friendly toward the
fossil fuel industry. Perry has advocated lighter regulation on
the industry, and has said that the science around climate
change is "unsettled."
Trump is set to pick U.S. Representative Cathy McMorris
Rodgers, who is also a climate-change skeptic and an advocate
for expanded oil and gas development, to head the Interior
Trump's pick for the Environmental Protection Agency is
Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, an ardent opponent of
President Barack Obama's measures to curb climate change who has
sued the EPA to block in a bid to undo a key regulation to curb
greenhouse gas emissions, mainly from coal-fired power plants.
Trump named Rex Tillerson, chief executive of oil giant
Exxon Mobil Corp, as his choice for secretary of state
An overwhelming majority of scientists believe that carbon
dioxide emissions from burning oil, gas and coal is a
significant contributor to global climate change, causing sea
level rise, drought, and more frequent violent storms.
(Reporting by Steve Holland; Writing by Richard Valdmanis;
Editing by Bill Trott)