US & Canada

Trump presidency: Rick Perry picked as US energy secretary

Rick Perry at Trump Tower Image copyright AP
Image caption Rick Perry at Trump Tower

Donald Trump has picked ex-Texas Governor Rick Perry as his energy secretary, a department whose name he famously forgot in a TV debate.

The nomination puts Mr Perry in charge of an agency he proposed abolishing in a failed 2012 White House bid.

Environmental groups called the oil-drilling advocate's selection "an insult to our functioning democracy".

In the role, the recent Dancing with the Stars contestant would oversee America's nuclear arsenal.

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Media caption'Oops': Rick Perry's debate disaster

Mr Trump said in a statement: "As the governor of Texas, 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."

If confirmed by the Senate, green activists fear Mr Perry will shift the department away from renewable energy and towards fossil fuels.

During 14 years as governor, he called for lighter regulation of the oil industry, and referred to the science around climate change as "unsettled".

Mr Perry is on the board of directors at Energy Transfer Partners, the company building the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline in North Dakota.

Accepting the nomination, Mr Perry said: "I look forward to engaging in a conversation about the development, stewardship and regulation of our energy resources, safeguarding our nuclear arsenal, and promoting an American energy policy that creates jobs and puts America first."

Image copyright ABC
Image caption Mr Perry was the second contestant eliminated on this season's Dancing with the Stars

He was briefly frontrunner in a previous Republican White House race until a disastrous brain freeze on live television.

During the November 2011 forum, Mr Perry vowed to ditch three cabinet-level departments if elected.

After mentioning the departments of Commerce and Education, he said: "I can't. The third one, I can't. Sorry. Oops."

It was, he later recalled, the Department of Energy.

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Mr Perry, 66, left office in January 2015 and briefly ran again - again unsuccessfully - for this year's presidential election.

He was a fierce critic of Mr Trump, calling him "a barking carnival act" and "a cancer on conservatism".

Mr Trump had belittled Mr Perry, saying: "He put on glasses so people will think he's smart."

Mr Perry was the second contestant eliminated on this season's Dancing with the Stars.