President-elect Donald Trump’s pick Tuesday for Energy Secretary, former Texas Governor Rick Perry sits on the board of directors of Energy Transfer Partners, the company building the Dakota Access pipeline, which has been fiercely opposed by Native Americans and environmentalists.
Perry joined the board of Energy Transfer Partners in February 2015 after serving as Texas governor for 14 years. During his failed presidential bid in 2015, the Texas-based oil giant pumped millions of dollars into Perry’s campaign and super PACs.
The fact that Trump chose him to lead the energy department further indicates his administration will most likely reverse the federal government’s decision to halt the construction of the Dakota Access and the rerouting of the pipeline.
The latest administration pick also confirms how close Trump’s White House will be to big corporations, in particular the fossil fuel industry in the United States.
Trump’s choice also borders on the absurd since the Republican governor previously wanted to ax the department when he was running for president in 2011.
When Perry was seeking the Republican nomination in 2011, he announced in a televised address that he intended to eliminate the department of energy.
But in a political gaffe that cost him the bid, he could not remember the name of the department. Now in 2017, he stands to lead that very department.
Also in 2015, when the former Texas governor was running for the Republican presidential nomination against Trump, he fiercely criticized his billionaire rival — a position he later reversed after Trump secured the nomination.
“He is without substance when one scratches below the surface. He offers a barking carnival act that can be best described as Trumpism: A toxic mix of demagoguery and mean-spiritedness and nonsense that will lead the Republican Party to perdition if pursued,” Perry said last year, as reported by MSNBC. “Let no one be mistaken — Donald Trump’s candidacy is a cancer on conservatism, and it must be clearly diagnosed, excised and discarded.”
But fast forward to 2016, after Trump became the candidate, Perry campaigned relentlessly for him all the way through to election day.
Despite its name, the department of energy’s role is to design nuclear weapons and to ensure the country’s nuclear arsenal is safe and reliable.
The two officials who served in the role during President Barack Obama’s terms in office were both physicists, one with a Nobel Prize and the other a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Perry, on the other hand, served as Texas’ governor from 2000 to 2015. Prior to that, he was the state’s agriculture commissioner, holding a bachelor’s degree in animal science.