Perry would bring oil industry ties to Energy Department

National/World
Rick Perry_254327

WASHINGTON (AP) — Rick Perry, President-elect Donald Trump’s choice for Energy secretary, has close ties to the Texas oil industry and has corporate roles in two petroleum companies pushing to get government approval for the proposed 1,200-mile crude oil pipeline that has stoked mass protests in North Dakota.

Perry’s current roles as board director at Energy Transfer Partners LP and also at Sunoco Logistics Partners LP, which jointly developed the controversial Dakota Access Pipeline project, is a strong indicator of the pro-oil industry sentiment that will likely take root at the Energy Department under his oversight. Perry is close to Texas energy industry executives, and his political campaigns, including two aborted presidential campaigns, benefited substantially from their donations.

The former Texas governor would not have authority to intervene directly after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ decision last month to delay the pipeline to allow talks with the Standing Rock Sioux and other project opponents. The Army will decide whether to grant an easement near the Sioux reservation in North Dakota, and the departments of Energy, Interior and Justice and the Environmental Protection Agency have had lesser supporting roles.

Perry’s close relations with energy executives and his long-time dependence on them for political contributions signal an abrupt change of course at the Energy Department. Perry is expected to welcome the four-state pipeline and similar projects, set an open-door policy for oil industry interests and possibly tear down the department altogether.

During his unsuccessful 2012 run for the presidency, Perry proposed eliminating the Energy Department. As secretary, he would be involved in policy decisions on increasing the nation’s domestic supply of oil and investments in oil exploration research and technology.

The department plays a major regulatory role in overseeing nuclear power and natural gas. It also manages 17 national labs charged with developing science and technology to further the nation’s energy sector and conduct research to spur innovation. It also maintains and secures U.S. nuclear weapons.

Soon after stepping down as Texas governor, Perry joined Energy Transfer Partners in February 2015, and its general partner, Sunoco Logistics, one month later. Energy Transfer Partners is owned by Kelcy Warren, a Dallas billionaire who has been a loyal Perry donor during his gubernatorial and presidential runs.

During the 2016 campaign, Warren donated $500,000 to the Opportunity and Freedom super political action committee backing Perry’s run for the White House. Warren also gave nearly $250,000 to Republican candidates and committees. The oil and gas industry was the dominant sector behind Perry’s 2016 presidential effort, donating more than $1.6 million.

The former Texas governor would not have authority to intervene directly after the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ decision last month to delay the pipeline to allow talks with the Standing Rock Sioux and other project opponents. The Army will decide whether to grant an easement near the Sioux reservation in North Dakota, and the departments of Energy, Interior and Justice and the Environmental Protection Agency have had lesser supporting roles.

Perry’s close relations with energy executives and his long-time dependence on them for political contributions signal an abrupt change of course at the Energy Department. Perry is expected to welcome the four-state pipeline and similar projects, set an open-door policy for oil industry interests and possibly tear down the department altogether.

During his unsuccessful 2012 run for the presidency, Perry proposed eliminating the Energy Department. As secretary, he would be involved in policy decisions on increasing the nation’s domestic supply of oil and investments in oil exploration research and technology.

The department plays a major regulatory role in overseeing nuclear power and natural gas. It also manages 17 national labs charged with developing science and technology to further the nation’s energy sector and conduct research to spur innovation. It also maintains and secures U.S. nuclear weapons.

Soon after stepping down as Texas governor, Perry joined Energy Transfer Partners in February 2015, and its general partner, Sunoco Logistics, one month later. Energy Transfer Partners is owned by Kelcy Warren, a Dallas billionaire who has been a loyal Perry donor during his gubernatorial and presidential runs.

During the 2016 campaign, Warren donated $500,000 to the Opportunity and Freedom super political action committee backing Perry’s run for the White House. Warren also gave nearly $250,000 to Republican candidates and committees. The oil and gas industry was the dominant sector behind Perry’s 2016 presidential effort, donating more than $1.6 million.

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