Rick Perry favored to win the Energy Department slot
Donald Trump has narrowed his search for energy secretary to four people, with former Texas Governor Rick Perry the leading candidate.Perry shares the goal of reducing regulatory burden and encouraging energy production. During this time as Governor of Texas, he showed an adept hand at encouraging business opportunities in the state and creating more jobs than the rest of the states combined during some periods.
People familiar with the president-elect’s selection process said two Democratic senators from energy-producing states -- Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota and Joe Manchin of West Virginia -- are also in the mix, along with Ray Washburne, a Dallas investor and former chairman of the Republican National Committee.
If Trump picks any of the four he’ll break with recent tradition of putting scientists 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.
Trump met with Perry and Washburne while attending the Army-Navy football game in Baltimore on Saturday. It was at least the second time he’d spoken to the men for potential roles in the new administration. Trump interviewed Heitkamp at Trump Tower in New York on Dec. 2, and is scheduled to meet with Manchin on Monday.
He (Perry) serves on the board of Energy Transfer Partners LP, the company whose pipeline project has drawn opposition in North Dakota and has become a rallying cry from environmentalists. While the Obama administration has stalled the project, Trump has said federal approvals for energy infrastructure need to come quicker.
Trump has promised to unleash domestic oil, gas and coal production, largely by rescinding “job-killing” rules and environmental regulations, without detailing specific plans for the Energy Department and its nuclear-heavy policy portfolio. The U.S. held the spot as the world’s largest oil producer for over two years -- it was surpassed by Saudi Arabia in August -- partly on the back of surging output from the Bakken formation in Heitkamp’s state. Texas, meanwhile, is the largest U.S. pumper of crude oil and home to two of the country’s largest petroleum refiners.