Rick Perry tapped to lead U.S. Department of Energy

U.S. president-elect Donald Trump formally announces Rick Perry, a former Texas governor and Trump's one-time presidential rival, as his choice to lead the U.S. Department of Energy.

Trump lauds former Texas governor for creating jobs, lowering energy costs

Rick Perry, seen here at a 2014 gathering in Fort Worth, Texas, is in line to lead the U.S. Department of Energy under president-elect Donald Trump. (Tony Gutierrez/The Associated Press)

U.S. president-elect Donald Trump on Wednesday formally announced Rick Perry, a former Texas governor and Trump's one-time presidential rival, as his choice to lead the U.S. Department of Energy.

If the nomination is confirmed by the U.S. Senate, the move would put Perry in charge of a federal department that he had proposed eliminating during his bid for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination.

In a statement from Trump's transition team, the president-elect cited Perry's tenure leading Texas, a leading oil-producing state and the nation's second-most-populous one, from 2000 until 2015.

"Rick Perry created… a business climate that produced millions of new jobs and lower energy prices in his state, and he will bring that same approach to our entire country as secretary of energy," Trump said in the statement.

Harsh critic

The two-time presidential candidate, who once called Trump a "cancer on conservatism," said in a statement he welcomed the nomination.

Perry was a harsh critic of Trump during the recent election race, but later endorsed him. 

During his first campaign, Perry vowed to abolish the department he is now in line to run. 

While debating fellow Republicans in 2011, Perry said he would do away with three federal departments if elected president. He named education and commerce but was unable to remember the third, which he later said was the Department of Energy. 

Tech talk

Also Wednesday, Trump was meeting with Silicon Valley leaders including Apple's Tim Cook, Google's Larry Page, Facebook's Sheryl Sandberg, Microsoft's Satya Nadella and Amazon's Jeff Bezos.

No other industry was more open in its contempt for Trump during the campaign. In an open letter published in July, more than 140 technology executives, entrepreneurs and venture capitalists skewered Trump as a "disaster for innovation."

Trump, in turn, sometimes lashed out at the industry and its leaders.

He lambasted Bezos for the campaign coverage by his newspaper, the Washington Post, and suggested that Amazon could face antitrust scrutiny if he were elected.

Trump lambasted Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos for campaign coverage by his newspaper, The Washington Post, and suggested that Amazon could face antitrust scrutiny if he were elected. (Ted S. Warren/Associated Press)

Trump also rebuked Cook for fighting a government order requiring Apple to unlock an encrypted iPhone used by a shooter in last year's terrorist attack in San Bernardino, Calif.

The industry is worried Trump will dismantle programs that have enabled the hiring of foreign workers and that Trump might try to undermine "net neutrality," a regulation requiring internet service providers to offer equal access to all online services. 

Tech execs 'being used'

Some in Silicon Valley think the industry's best move would be to keep its distance until Trump changes his tone. Former Google executive Chris Sacca, now a tech investor, said industry leaders should steer clear of the meeting altogether.

Sitting down with the president-elect "would only make sense after Trump has given public assurances he won't encourage censorship, will stop exploiting fake news, will promote net neutrality, denounce hate crimes and embrace science," Sacca said.

"Until then, tech figures who visit are being used to whitewash an authoritarian bully who threatens not just our industry but our entire democracy."

Most of the companies with executives attending Wednesday's meeting declined to comment ahead of the gathering.

Trump spokeswoman Hope Hicks said by email that the president-elect "looks forward to meeting with this important group of industry leaders and true innovators."

With files from CBC News


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