THERE ARE MANY THINGS about Rick Perry that you probably know — that he twice ran for the Republican nomination for president, or that he served for 15 years as Governor of Texas, one of the longest terms in modern history.
You probably know that he’s a staunch conservative, and endorsed Ted Cruz for president before shifting his support behind Donald J. Trump, back in May 2016.
He’s also infamously “not ashamed to admit that [he’s] a Christian, [and knows that] you don’t need to be in the pew every Sunday to know there’s something wrong in this country when gays can serve openly in the military, but our kids can’t openly celebrate Christmas or pray in school.”
Rick Perry is a known entity. He’s been in the public spotlight for years, and has been a household name since seeking the Republican nod in 2012. We’re familiar with him, and his politics. The better part of his adult life has been spent under a political microscope, so there really shouldn’t be any surprises when Donald Trump nominates him to run the Department of Energy, a branch of government he notably forgot that he wanted to abolish a few years ago.
Yet one thing that you might not know about Rick Perry is that he sits on the board of directors of Energy Transfer Partners, the company responsible for building the Dakota Access Pipeline (DAPL), the completion of which is at the heart of the Standing Rock protests.
The Army Corps of Engineers has issued a stay in the permit process, halting the completion of the pipeline that has galvanized Native tribes and environmentalists across the country. Yet there is a distinct possibility that the Trump Administration could come in and greenlight the project. Elevating Mr. Perry to run the Department of Energy, which “oversees the nation’s nuclear program, energy research and more physical science research than any other federal agency”, would certainly indicate that this could be the case.
Trump himself was quoted as saying about the DAPL on Fox News that “when [he] get[s] to office, if it’s not solved, [he]’ll have it solved very quickly”. Appointing one of the board of directors to a major cabinet position might suggest just how he plans to do so.
Regardless of whether Perry uses his newfound power to affect change on the DAPL project, one thing is clear: he is a staunch supporter of the fossil fuel industry. There is no reason to believe he will pursue an agenda that focuses on anything except finite natural resources such as oil and gas, which will certainly give environmentalists cause for concern.
At this point, it really shouldn’t come as any surprise that Trump has picked someone like Perry to lead the Department of Energy, but more can be said about him than some of Trump’s other cabinet picks: Perry has been a committed public servant for the past 20+ years. He has extensive experience as a government executive; he is simply a born-and-bred Texan who favors the fossil fuel industry.
One can only hope that should he involve himself in the Dakota Access Pipeline battle, it will be because of his support for fossil fuels, and not because of his personal stake in the company building the pipeline.