Rick Perry to Lead Agency He Once Wanted to Ax

By TIM RYAN

WASHINGTON (CN) – Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry is President-elect Donald Trump’s choice to head the Department of Energy, according to published reports.

Perry, a candidate in both the 2012 and 2016 Republican primaries, once proposed eliminating the department he is now poised to lead and has a long history of making statements denying climate change.

“Calling CO2 a pollutant is doing a disservice to the country, and I believe to the world,” Perry said in 2014 before also saying he was “offended” by Democrats labeling as “deniers” people who do not believe in man-made climate change.

Perry, who in the past has advocated for loosening regulations on energy companies, gives Trump’s cabinet another staunch fossil fuel advocate, causing Democrats and environmental groups to raise alarms.

Oklahoma Attorney General Scott Pruitt, who is suing the EPA over the Obama administration’s Clean Power Plan, has close ties to several oil companies and is Trump’s pick to lead the EPA. Trump also announced earlier Tuesday that Exxon Mobil CEO Rex Tillerson will serve as his secretary of state.

Trump and Perry feuded during Perry’s brief time on the campaign trail, with the Texas Republican calling his potential future boss “a cancer on conservatism.”

Perry was governor of Texas from 2000 to 2015 and previously served in the Texas House of Representatives and the Air Force.

Speaking on a conference call Tuesday morning, a spokesman for Trump declined to confirm Perry’s appointment, though he did say those on the Trump team are “big fans” of him.