What You Need to Know About Secretary of Energy Pick Rick Perry

This piece is one in a series of articles about President-elect Donald Trump’s appointees for the new administration. To read the rest in the series, click here.

Does President-elect Donald Trump understand that the Department of Energy isn’t really about…energy, per se? It’s difficult to say, but maybe that’s why he’s tapping former Texas Governor Rick Perry as Secretary of Energy.

The position – which was created in the 1970s and is heavily involved in not just energy technology but also with nuclear weapons stockpiled, defense and non-proliferation — is quite a load for the former governor, who once forgot the department even existed. Now, he’s about to be put in charge.

Here’s everything you need to know about the next likely Secretary of Energy Rick Perry.

1) He was the governor of Texas for over a decade – and once a Democrat.

“The child of a cotton farmer and county commissioner from west Texas, Perry immersed himself in politics from a young age,” reports the Washington Post. “He was elected as a Democrat to the state legislature but switched to the GOP when he ran for Texas agriculture commissioner.”

2) He was a 2012 presidential contender, but flamed out hard.

Perry was just one of nearly a dozen GOP contenders in 2012, and he shot to the lead soon after declaring. Then he fell. From ads even his staff panned to repeated debate gaffes, Perry exited the race in shame and former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney won the party endorsement instead.

3) He was a 2016 presidential contender but flamed out hard.

“Perry, 66, left office in January 2015 after a record 14 years as governor and then launched his second ill-fated bid for the Republican presidential nomination,” reports the Associated Press.

“He was a harsh critic of Trump, even calling the billionaire businessman a ‘cancer to conservatism,’ but Perry lasted only three months in the race for the 2016 nomination before dropping out.

“Perry later endorsed the Republican nominee and said he’d be willing to work in a Trump administration.”

4) He’s not ready to handle the full scope of the Energy Department.

According to the New York Times:

While Texas is rich in energy resources and Mr. Perry is an enthusiastic supporter of extracting them, it is not clear how that experience would translate into leading a department far more devoted to national security and basic science than fossil fuels. Despite its name, the Energy Department plays the leading role in designing nuclear weapons, thwarting their proliferation, and ensuring the safety and reliability of the nation’s aging nuclear arsenal through a constellation of laboratories considered the crown jewels of government science.

About 60 percent of the Energy Department’s budget is devoted to managing the National Nuclear Security Administration, which defines its mission as enhancing national security through the military application of nuclear science. Under President Obama, the Energy Department helped secure an agreement with Iran to dismantle its nuclear weapons program and took on a higher-profile role in efforts to combat global warming, particularly through scientific research. It also established the Advanced Research Projects Agency-Energy to support breakthrough research on clean energy technology.

To that end, the last two energy secretaries, Ernest J. Moniz of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Steven Chu of Stanford, brought to the office their doctorates in physics, their academic credentials and, in Dr. Chu’s case, a Nobel Prize.

5) Plus he once advocated getting rid of the agency – or would have if he could have remembered its name.

“It’s a good thing former Texas Gov. Rick Perry once forgot he wanted to eliminate the Department of Energy, because President-elect Donald Trump is nominating him to lead the agency. That’s according to reports by multiple news outlets,” reports NPR News.

“Perry, who served 14 years as governor of energy-rich Texas, blanked on the Department of Energy’s name during a televised gaffe in a 2011 debate that was probably the most high-profile moment of his troubled 2012 presidential run. It’s become known as the ‘Oops Moment.’”

6) He and the President-elect both have reality show experience.

“’Listen, I’m honored to have been here,” he told reporters after being eliminated [from Dancing with the Stars]. “It is a great privilege to be on Dancing with the Stars, and more importantly I got to see and have a whole new appreciation for some professionals. Whether it was the costume artists, the makeup artists, the individuals moving sets around … Obviously, the professional dancers, the producers.”

7) They also agree that there is no man-made climate change.

According to Slate:

Perry, like Trump, has consistently denied the existence of climate change, although he hasn’t gone as far as suggesting the concept was invented by the Chinese to kill American manufacturing. “In his pre-campaign book, Fed Up!, Perry referred to efforts to tackle global warming as ‘hysteria’ and described the science a ‘contrived phony mess,’” Mother Jones’ Patrick Caldwell wrote last year. “He even wrote that ‘we have been experiencing a cooling trend.’ ” He’s the perfect pick, all and all, for an incoming administration bent on putting people in charge of agencies whose work they do not believe in. Perhaps to help him along in the great dismantling, the Trump team is already ominously compiling the names of Energy Department employees who have worked on climate change.

8) He is on the board of the company trying to run the pipeline through South Dakota.

“Perry sits on the board of Energy Transfer Partners, the firm that is trying to complete work on the Dakota Access Pipeline on the Great Plains,” reports the Washington Post. “Under President Obama, the Army Corps of Engineers recently decided to withhold a key permit from the company that is needed to finish the oil pipeline. The pipeline has drawn protests from activists who say that segment of the pipeline would disturb American Indian burial grounds and pollute the drinking water of the nearby Indian reservation. The Energy Department has not played a role in that decision-making process, however, and Trump has indicated he would allow the project to move forward once he takes office.”

9) He’s yet another Evangelical Christian nominee.

“Rick Perry is an outspoken evangelical Christian,” reports Religion News Service. “As governor of Texas he organized a prayer rally that drew 30,000 people to a Houston stadium where a parade of Republican candidates appeared alongside religious leaders in prayer. The event drew condemnation from church-state separationists.”

Photo credit: Gage Skidmore, via Wikimedia Commons

78 comments

Marie W
Marie W2 years ago

TYFS

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Arthur J
Arthur Joyce2 years ago

Having suffered through a decade of ultra-conservatism in Canada under Stephen Harper, we Canadians feel your pain!

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ERIKA S
ERIKA S2 years ago

noted

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ERIKA S
ERIKA S2 years ago

noted

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ERIKA S
ERIKA S2 years ago

noted

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Siyus C
Siyus Copetallus2 years ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Robert G
Robert G2 years ago

I had not heard good things about Mr. Perry, and began reading this article with my prejudice. But the more I read, the more bias on the part of the author I saw. The fact that Perry “flamed out” and “left in shame” is by itself not a disgrace, but the choice of words by the author are poorly chosen to prejudice the reader…another example of an author trying to “lead” the reader with bias. Can the news media just present us facts and let the reader make their conclusions? The author is repeating multiple times that Perry left the bid for president. All in all, the article is with only minimum substance. The accusation that Perry went on Dancing with the Stars is not important, and again, bias in trying to discredit Perry. And then the article ends with Perry is a Christian. What importance does that have to do with his relevancy? This country was founded on religious freedom. Perry might be a poor choice for Energy Secretary, but this was not well established by the author.

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ERIKA SOMLAI
ERIKA S2 years ago

noted

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ERIKA SOMLAI
ERIKA S2 years ago

noted

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Chad Anderson
Chad A2 years ago

I spent the majority of the Bush years (from about two weeks before 9/11) and it was disturbing how the US became a pariah state under fairly mainstream Republicans. It was embarrassing to watch the rest of the world come to see the US as a major problem. That quickly reversed under Obama and relations have been normalized though there are still issues. It is looking as though the US is starting the Trump period as an imitation of a failed petro-state and the rest of the world is alarmed. This is a disturbing state of affairs.

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