President-Elect Donald Trump isn’t even sworn into office yet, but he’s already stirring up some heated discussion because of his…interestingadministration picks. The latest debate involves former Texas governor Rick Perry, who accepted Trump’s offer of Energy Secretary thinking that it would entail promoting American oil and gas, The New York Timesreports.
Not quite, Perry—the White House’s official site describes the Department of Energy as “advancing the national, economic and energy security of the United States.” As if the situation couldn’t get more awkward, The Washington Post writes that, while running for president in 2012, Perry believed that the Energy Department should be abolished. He even forgot the name of the department during a 2011 debate. Um, what?!
Although the position isn’t officially his, Perry still voiced regret that he said the department wasn’t needed. Before beginning his Jan. 19 confirmation hearing with the Senate Committee on Energy and National Resources, he announced, “My past statements made over five years ago about abolishing the Department of Energy do not reflect my current thinking. In fact, after being briefed on so many of the vital functions of the Department of Energy, I regret recommending its elimination.”
The Department of Energy is definitely crucial to the country’s upkeep, providing protection from nuclear threats and raising money for energy efficiency among other duties. According to the New York Times, Perry doesn’t have nearly as much experience with these specifications as current Secretary and former MIT physics department chairman Ernest J. Moniz, but he did oversee a plan to run a nuclear waste repository while serving as governor. While defending his past statement, Perry even separated himself from Trump’s beliefs by admitting that “some of” climate change results from “man-made activity.”
Perry has a lot of concerns to ease during his hearing, including his relationship with fossil fuel organizations and his invested stocks in Energy Transfer Partners, which is trying to build the Dakota Access Pipeline, USA Today reports. If he’s confirmed as Energy Secretary, one of his main jobs will be to handle the Iran nuclear deal, which the White House believes would prevent Iran from reaching nuclear weapons. Although Perry seems to be cleaning up his act to take on the position, his past views—and his inexperience—still make him a questionable pick.