Rick Perry picked to lead agency he forgot he wanted to eliminate

Rick Perry at the third presidential debate (MG Photo)
Rick Perry at the third presidential debate (NBC Photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Rex Tillerson isn’t the only Texas native being tapped for Donald Trump’s Cabinet. Donald Trump has announced that former Texas Governor Rick Perry has been picked for the head of the Energy Department.

Early Wednesday morning Trump said Perry led Texas through “a sustained period of economic growth and prosperity.” The President-Elect says he “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.”

It’s a “tremendous honor” said Perry adding that he is looking forward to “engaging in a conversation” about the nation’s energy future, according to the Associated Press.

Perry was extremely critical of Trump during the primaries; even calling Trump himself a “barking carnival act.” However, as it became clearer that Trump would likely win the Republican nomination, Perry backed off from his criticism and said he would be open to helping.

Trump’s pick to name Perry as the head of the Energy Department is controversial because this means Perry would run the department he promised to get rid of in 2011, during his first run for president. In fact, it was the agency he “forgot” when listing three agencies he would get rid of during a debate in 2011.

“I would do away with the education, the uh… commerce, and let’s see… I can’t. The third one, I can’t. Oops,” said Perry.

Perry currently sits on the corporate board for Energy Transfer partners, the parent company behind the highly protested Dakota access pipeline. The Obama administration recently stopped construction to look into alternate routes for the pipeline to avoid cutting off water to a Native American reservation. Over the weekend, Trump, who supports the pipeline, said if this issue isn’t resolved by his inauguration, he would intervene.

“Not good news for those of us who like to breath clean air. It’s not good news for those of us who are concerned about increasing droughts, increasing floods,” said Robin Schnider from the Texas Campaign for the Environment. She worries along with other climate change activists that Perry’s ties to the oil and gas industry will slant his judgement. Many oil execs have donated to his campaigns.

“Right now he’s on the board of the pipeline company that’s trying to build the pipeline in the Dakotas that’s so controversial,” said Schnider.

“Gov. Perry’s regulatory approach has always been balanced,” said former Perry Chief of Staff, Ray Sullivan, who says his connections will be a positive not a negative. “Knowing the players in energy will help him do his job effectively. He has proven here in Texas that he’s willing to take tough stands and he hasn’t made his supporters happy over the years,” said Sullivan.

The key will be knowing where the line will be. “You have to, to be effective I think,” said Public Affairs consultant Craig Casselberry, founder and CEO of Quorum. He says because this is an appointed position he won’t have to please his former donors to get his job. Instead of asking for money he’ll be trying to promote American energy.

Texas skyrockets beyond other states in wind energy production. Most of that increase came during Perry’s 14 years as governor. “That really favors production because production is what’s going to drive, keep prices down, and also become energy independent,” said Casselberry.

None of the candidates for Energy Secretary picked by Trump have a scientific background, including Perry. Under Obama, the two energy secretaries are nuclear physicist Ernest Moniz and Nobel Prize winner in physics Steven Chu.

The secretary of energy works on energy education and developing technologies for energy efficiency.

Reactions

Texas Governor Greg Abbott released this statement about Perry being selected:

President-elect Trump continues to surround himself with individuals who share his commitment to overhauling the job-killing regulatory environment created by the Obama administration. Under Rick Perry’s leadership in Texas, the Lone Star State experienced unprecedented growth in the energy sector, which in turn created hundreds of thousands of jobs for Texans. Rick Perry was instrumental in creating a more favorable regulatory environment for the energy industry in Texas, and I have no doubt that he will bring that same expertise to his new post. The State of Texas looks forward to working with him to help advance America’s energy sector to create a more robust economy and greater opportunity for all Americans.”

Sen. Ted Cruz released the following statement about Perry being picked:

Gov. Perry will make a terrific Secretary of Energy. For 14 years, he led the State of Texas, and with low taxes, restrained spending, and limited regulation, Texas became one of the greatest economic powerhouses in the world. His executive experience across diverse policy areas makes him qualified to run just about any federal agency. Gov. Perry is an exceptional pick to head the Department of Energy, and after presiding over the nation’s number one producer of oil and natural gas, and one of the nation’s leaders in wind, solar, and nuclear energy, he understands the importance of our country’s energy resources not only to our economy, but also to our national security. I am confident that Gov. Perry will be an aggressive champion for opening more lands to exploration and working to reduce our dependence on foreign energy sources. I enthusiastically support his nomination as Secretary of Energy.”

The Democratic National Committee Director Adam Hodge released this statement about Perry being picked:

Rick Perry said that the Energy Department should be eliminated. Rick Perry forgot that he wanted to eliminate the Energy Department. Rick Perry released an energy plan some dubbed a ”wish list for the oil and gas industry” and he is currently serving on the boards of energy companies behind the Dakota Access Pipeline. Rick Perry has made loud and clear that he’s a climate change denier and doesn’t think that the federal government should ensure that every American has access to clear air, land, or water.”

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