Former Texas Governor Rick Perry is President-elect Donald Trump’s choice to become energy secretary. Picture: Kathy Willens/AP File
Former Texas Governor Rick Perry is President-elect Donald Trump’s choice to become energy secretary. Picture: Kathy Willens/AP File

Trump picks climate skeptic for top energy job

By Reuters Time of article published Dec 14, 2016

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Washington - President-elect Donald Trump

on Wednesday named former Texas Governor Rick Perry to head the

US 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

storms.

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

confirmation.

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,"

Hall added.

Oil Ties

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

and supporters.

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

energy production.

"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

interview.

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

nomination.

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

ago."

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." 

Reuters

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