WASHINGTON, Dec. 14, 2016 – President-elect Donald Trump said today that he intends to name Rick Perry, who served as Texas governor from 2000 to 2015, as his Secretary of Energy.
Perry, who previously served in the Texas House of Representatives and as Texas Agriculture Commissioner, ran in the GOP presidential primaries in 2012 and 2016 before ultimately withdrawing. In 2011, Perry pledged to eliminate the Energy Department and other federal agencies, but during a televised debate – which he later described as an “oops” moment – he could not recall the name of the department.
“As the governor of Texas, Rick 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,” Trump said in a release from his transition team. “My administration 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, and Rick Perry is going to do an amazing job as the leader of that process.”
Perry, who grew up on a farm and holds a bachelor’s degree in animal science from Texas A&M University, has strong ties to his state’s cattle industry. In 2011, while the Texas livestock industry was suffering from a prolonged drought, he joined other states in asking Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Lisa Jackson to waive the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS).
During a 2015 presidential primary forum on agricultural issues in ethanol-friendly Iowa, Perry did not give a “yes” or “no” answer on his support for the RFS. Instead, he bobbed and weaved before admitting that he had asked for a waiver from the mandate. He said it was the right decision for his state during the drought, but then seemingly said he would accept the federal mandate until a time when all energy subsidies could be scrutinized to see if they are “in the best interests of our country.”
“I don't think you pull the RFS out and discriminate against the RFS and leave all of these other subsidies and mandates in place,” he told the crowd before switching to a states’ rights argument. “I don't think Washington, D.C. – whether it's on deciding on what our child's curriculums should be, deciding what our health care should be ... or picking winners or losers when it comes to agricultural products.” If a state wants to set an energy mandate, as Texas has done for wind, he said that’s OK.
Environmental organizations will undoubtedly find fault with his ties to the oil and gas industry. Dallas billionaire Kelcy Warren, who is CEO of Dakota Access Pipeline builder Energy Transfer Partners, is a big Perry supporter. Last year, Perry joined his board of directors. Warren is also CEO of Roatan Electric Company, which is investing $5 million in a new wind farm off the coast of Honduras.
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Perry also has a strong track record with the wind industry, with the state becoming a wind energy generation leader during his tenure as governor. In late November, wind gusts along the Gulf Coast, the Texas Panhandle and in West Texas generated 15,033 megawatts of wind energy at once – nearly half of the state's electricity at the time, according to the Electric Reliability Council of Texas.
"It is a tremendous honor to be selected to serve as Secretary of Energy by President-elect Trump,” Perry said. “I am deeply humbled by his trust in me. As the former governor of the nation's largest energy producing state, I know American energy is critical to our economy and our security. I look forward to engaging in a conversation about the development, stewardship and regulation of our energy resources, safeguarding our nuclear arsenal, and promoting an American energy policy that creates jobs and puts America first."
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