Climate change sceptic to head US energy dept

Mr Tillerson of ExxonMobil was named secretary of state. Mr Perry was governor of oil-rich Texas till last year.
Mr Perry was governor of oil-rich Texas till last year.
Mr Pruitt is set to head the Environmental Protection Agency.
Mr Tillerson of ExxonMobil was named secretary of state.
Mr Pruitt is set to head the Environmental Protection Agency.
Mr Pruitt is set to head the Environmental Protection Agency.

Trump's pick of Rick Perry is good news to fossil fuel industy

WASHINGTON • United States President-elect Donald Trump yesterday formally named former Texas governor Rick Perry to lead the Department of Energy, adding to the list of oil-drilling advocates sceptical about climate change filling out his Cabinet selections.

The choice of Mr 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 Mr Trump's transition team, the President-elect cited Mr Perry's tenure leading Texas, a leading oil-producing state, from 2000 until last year.

"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," Mr Trump said in the statement.

Mr Perry, a one-time presidential rival of Mr Trump, in the statement welcomed the planned nomination to serve under the President-elect, who takes office on Jan 20.

His selection is the latest indication that Mr Trump may be friendly towards 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, Mr Trump named Mr Rex Tillerson, chief executive of oil giant ExxonMobil, for secretary of state. Mr 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 Mr Perry's nomination is confirmed by the US 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 US energy policy and oversees the nation's nuclear weapons programme.

Mr 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. Mr Trump's team has said it would review the decision to delay the pipeline's final completion once he takes office next month.

Mr Perry served as Lieutenant-Governor of Texas beginning in 1999 under then-governor George W. Bush. He went on to serve as the 47th governor of the state.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 15, 2016, with the headline 'Climate change sceptic to head US energy dept'. Print Edition | Subscribe