Incoming Secretary Of Energy Rick Perry Has No Idea What The Job Actually Is

Perry, pictured back in 2015, speaking at the annual meeting of the NRA. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Robin Andrews 20 Jan 2017, 14:20

Oh dear, Rick Perry’s back in the news. If you are lucky enough to not know who this is, then it falls to us to introduce you to him.

This is the man who is going to be in charge of the Department of Energy (DoE), which handles research into energy development, nuclear power, clean energy resources, and – most of all – maintaining the US nuclear weapons program and waste disposal.

There are a few problems with this. First and foremost, as reported by the New York Times, this unusual fellow initially thought he was taking on a role as a “global ambassador for the American oil and gas industry.”

This is not what the DoE handles at all, not even close. Of course, he’d love to be able to do this in Trump’s climate change denying regime, particularly as so many fossil fuel organizations – including the largest coal group in the US – send him so much money on a relatively regular basis.

Sadly, he will not be an ambassador in this fashion at the DoE. Faced with this insanely steep learning curve, Perry will be more akin to a frog being given control over a space station. It will not go well.

It’s also worth pointing out that Perry once wished to abolish the DoE, which makes it slightly weird that he’s now being put in charge of it.


In a televised debate during the 2012 election cycle, he famously declared he wished to abolish three departments – Education, Commerce, and Energy – since no one has any use for these. He also rather wonderfully forgot the name of the last one, even after other Republican nominees chimed in to help him out.

In the end, he just shrugged and said “oops”, which was one of the many, many reasons he failed to get the Republican nomination when all was said and done.

It must be underscored that he will be replacing one Ernest Moniz, the former chairman of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology physics department. Moniz himself was the successor to Steve Chu, a researcher from Stanford University that won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1997.

Perry, for his part, studied animal husbandry at university, which as we all known is extremely relevant to nuclear weapons. He is also a keen dancer, of sorts.

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