WASHINGTON — President-elect Donald Trump plans to name former Texas Gov. Rick Perry as his secretary of energy.
The selection of Perry to lead the energy agency would offer a rich paradox: During a televised debate in 2011, Perry intended to list the Department of Energy among agencies he wanted to eliminate, but he could not remember its name.
While Texas is rich in energy resources and Perry is an enthusiastic advocate of extracting them, it is not clear how that experience would translate into leading what is also a major national security agency. Despite its name, the Department of Energy plays the leading role in designing nuclear weapons and in ensuring the safety and reliability of the nation’s aging nuclear arsenal through a constellation of scientific laboratories.
About 60 percent of the Energy Department’s budget is devoted to managing the National Nuclear Security Administration, which defines its mission as enhancing national security through the military application of nuclear science.
The administration manages the country’s nuclear weapons stockpile and runs U.S. programs on nuclear nonproliferation and counterterrorism. The two men who served as President Barack Obama’s energy secretaries were physicists, one with a Nobel Prize, the other a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Perry, 66, was governor from 2000 to 2015 and before that was the Texas agriculture commissioner. He holds a bachelor’s degree in animal science from Texas A&M University.
He was briefly a front-runner in the 2012 presidential campaign, but his Energy Department “oops moment,” as he called it, was widely seen as a major factor in sinking his candidacy.
He was also a candidate in the most recent Republican primaries, but he dropped out in late 2015.
While campaigning in 2015 for the Republican nomination, Perry called Trump a “barking carnival act” and a “cancer on conservatism.” But he campaigned energetically for Trump this year in the months leading up to the presidential election.