(Bloomberg) - Donald Trump has chosen Rick Perry to be Energy Secretary, putting the one-time presidential candidate and former oil-state governor atop the agency that helps chart the nation's energy future, according to four people familiar with the president-elect's selection process.
Trump offered the job to the former Texas governor on Monday (Dec 12) evening and he accepted, according to the people, who asked not to be identified in advance of an announcement expected later this week.
The selection of Perry puts the vast Energy Department in the hands of a man who once vowed to shut it down but forgot its name during a debate.
As the longest-serving governor in Texas, Perry, 66, was an advocate of "American energy," and oversaw a state that is a powerhouse in both fossil fuels and renewables. It is the nation's biggest producer of oil and, thanks to a wave of turbine installations, has the capacity to generate more wind energy than any other state.
Perry is at least the third cabinet pick considered friendly to the oil industry, with Trump's selection of Exxon Mobil Corp. chief Rex Tillerson to be secretary of state and Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, who has a history of suing the Environmental Protection Agency, as chief of that agency.
Trump is also expected to name Jay Martin Cohen, a retired Navy rear admiral, as the Energy Department's undersecretary for nuclear security, one person said.
Famous Flub Perry twice ran for the Republican presidential nomination, presenting himself as a pro-business candidate and touting Texas's strong job-creation record during his tenure.
The first bid faltered after a series of gaffes. In the most famous, Perry was unable, during a 2011 debate, to name the third federal agency that he wanted to disband along with the departments of commerce and education. It was the Energy Department.
A second run, launched in 2015, began with high expectations but ended amid low poll numbers after only a few months.
In Texas, Perry viewed energy policy as a tool for economic development, with investments in renewable wind power as well as traditional fossil fuels. That background could be a limited asset for Perry, though.
Despite its name, the 39-year-old Energy Department's chief role is managing the national nuclear weapons complex, promoting nuclear security and advocating nonproliferation.
Under President Barack Obama the department also has prioritised the advancement of clean-energy technologies.
Trump cabinet picks show New Energy direction Perry's nomination breaks with a recent tradition of putting scientists steeped in physics at the top of the Energy Department.
Among other things, the agency is responsible for policies on the safe handling of nuclear material and on emerging energy technologies. Perry earned a degree in animal science from Texas A&M University.
Ernest Moniz, the current energy secretary, is a nuclear physicist who previously headed an energy initiative at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He was preceded by Steven Chu, a Nobel laureate who directed the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab and was a professor of physics and molecular and cellular biology.
Trump has promised to unleash domestic oil, gas and coal production, largely by rescinding "job-killing" rules and environmental regulations.
Although the Interior Department and Environmental Protection Agency would be the target for much of that regulatory rollback, a questionnaire circulated by Trump advisers signals future scrutiny of the Energy Department's national labs and loan guarantee programmes.