Trump officially selects Rick Perry to be energy secretary

- President-elect Donald Trump has announced his selection of former campaign rival Rick Perry to be the country's next secretary of energy.

   In a statement early Wednesday on his decision, Trump said Perry, a former governor of Texas, had led his state through "a sustained period of economic growth and prosperity" by developing its energy resources and infrastructure.
   Trump says in his statement that his administration "is going to make sure we take advantage of our huge natural resource deposits to make America energy independent and create vast new wealth for our nation."
   Perry calls it "a tremendous honor" to be chosen for Trump's Cabinet. Perry adds that he looks forward to "engaging in a conversation" about America's energy future.
Tuesday, we reported Perry is likely to shift the department away from renewable energy and toward oil and other fossil fuels that he championed as Texas governor.
   Perry, 66, left office in January 2015 after a record 14 years as governor and then launched his second ill-fated bid for the Republican presidential nomination.
   He was a harsh critic of Trump, even calling the billionaire businessman a "cancer to conservatism," but Perry lasted only three months in the race for the 2016 nomination before dropping out.
   Perry later endorsed the Republican nominee and said he'd be willing to work in a Trump administration. 
   In his first presidential run, Perry flamed out after a series of missteps. 
   The best-remembered one came during a presidential debate in 2011 when he couldn't remember, despite repeated attempts, the third of three federal agencies he had promised to eliminate if elected. He finally muttered "Oops." 
   The one he forgot was, ironically, the Energy Department. The two others were Commerce and Education. 
   Perry has drawn criticism from some environmental activists because he is on the board of Texas-based Energy Transfer Partners, the company trying to build a 1,200-mile Dakota Access pipeline that would carry crude oil from North Dakota to Illinois. The pipeline has sparked protests that have made national headlines. 
   Perry also serves on the board of another energy firm, Sunoco Logistics Partners.
   He has been a vocal skeptic on climate change since before his first run for the White House. During his governorship, though, Texas became a major producer of wind powered-energy. 
   Perry for years used economic incentive funds controlled by his office to offer tens of billions of dollars to wind producers and other companies promoting alternative energy. 
   This year, Perry joined the board of a stem cell company where he underwent experimental back surgery before running for president in 2011.
   Perry had previously blamed chronic back pain for his "oops" moment and other gaffes that sunk his once-promising campaign, hinting that the procedure carried out by the Houston-based biotechnology company Celltex Therapeutics didn't help him overcome it. 
   But the former governor told The Associated Press this fall, after joining the company board, that his health was good and he was a big believer in adult stem cell therapy. 
   Perry recently demonstrated his fitness with a brief appearance on this season's "Dancing with the Stars." He was the second contestant eliminated.
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