If you haven’t been following the news in recent times, you may want to know that there’s a new president in the Whitehouse. Donald J Trump is the 45th and some would say the least illustrious. Just a few days into his tenure and there are real worries that he is going to have an adverse effect on the climate change agenda.
Indeed, shortly after his inauguration on Friday, news began to spread that the new team had taken down all mention of climate change from the government website. Murmurings of public officials working for energy complaining that they were being stopped from speaking out also began to surface. In fairness, the taking down of the Obama website was actually standard practice. The fact that it wasn’t replaced by something similar and mention climate change at all (as well as LGBT rights and equality) seemed to fuel nervousness among the country’s liberals even when an explanation was given.
The key issue, though, has been the selection of Rick Perry to be the Secretary for the Energy Department. When he was running for the nomination a few years back and was quizzed about which departments he would like to close, Perry listed energy among them. So, it makes perfect sense to put a man who wanted to get rid of the Energy Department in charge of it. Maybe it’s Trump’s idea of a joke.
But who exactly is Rick Perry?
Our outline below may not entirely instil you with confidence that this new administration is going to take climate change and renewables entirely seriously.
- He is the Governor of Texas and is the longest serving one in the state, having been first elected way back in 2000 during the Bush era.
- He has actually tried to run for President a couple of times, both, of course, unsuccessfully.
- When Trump asked him to become Energy Secretary, he had no idea what the department actually did. He didn’t even know that part of its job is to maintain the nuclear arsenal.
- Rick used to be a democrat but turned to the Dark Side when he was not successful. He subsequently became Governor as a Republican.
- He was one of Trump’s biggest critics in the lead up to the nominations and endorsed Ted Cruz instead.
- In the past he has been accused of being homophobic and the family hunting lodge is believed to have a racist name.
- He’s also been accused of cronyism and corruption in the past – he is a politician after all.
- He is on the board of Energy Transfer Partners who just happen to be building the controversial Dakota Pipeline where native Americans have been protesting in recent months. Trump also has a considerable number of shares in the company.
- But here’s the kicker: He doesn’t think global warming is real and once said: ‘Calling CO2 a pollutant is doing a disservice to the country’, though no one was quite sure what he meant.
As of writing, Perry has yet to be approved by the Congressional Committee but most green activists aren’t holding their breath. The next few months may not only see Trump and his team building more pipelines, expanding fracking operations and looking for new oil sources, it could see him withdrawing from the global climate change deal. Perhaps the only chance is if the administration sees the potential for profit and job creation that the industry can deliver.