U.S. President-elect Donald Trump on Wednesday formally named former Texas governor Rick Perry to lead the Department of Energy, adding to the list of oil-drilling advocates skeptical about climate change filling out his Cabinet selections.
The choice of Perry, first disclosed on Monday, is likely to further worry environmentalists concerned about the incoming Trump administration’s impact on the climate, while an eager energy industry ready for expansion welcomes the selection.
In a statement from Trump’s transition team, the president-elect cited Perry’s tenure leading Texas, a leading oil-producing state and the nation’s second most populous one, from 2000 until 2015.
“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 the statement.
Perry, a one-time presidential rival of Trump who unsuccessfully sought the Republican nomination in 2016 and 2012, in the statement welcomed the planned nomination to serve under Trump, who takes office Jan. 20.
His selection is the latest indication that Trump may be friendly toward the fossil fuel industry even as an overwhelming majority of scientists believe carbon dioxide emissions from burning oil, gas and coal are a significant contributor to global climate change, causing higher sea levels, drought and more frequent violent storms.
On Tuesday, Trump named Rex Tillerson, chief executive of oil giant Exxon Mobil Corp, for secretary of state. Trump’s 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.
If Perry’s nomination is confirmed by the U.S. Senate, the move would also put the Texan in charge of a federal department that he had proposed eliminating during his bid for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination.
The department is responsible for U.S. energy policy and oversees the nation’s nuclear weapons program. Perry has advocated lighter regulation on the fossil fuel industry, and has called the science around climate change “unsettled.”
He is also on the board of directors for Energy Transfer Partners, the 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 decision to delay the pipeline’s final completion once he takes office next month.
(Reporting by Susan Heavey and Steve Holland; Editing by Alison Williams and Chizu Nomiyama)