The Energy Department appeared to confound former Texas Gov. Rick Perry.
According to a report from The New York Times published on Wednesday, when President-elect Donald Trump tapped Perry as energy secretary, he had a completely different idea about what the job entailed.
Perry was under the impression that he would be taking on an ambassador role for the US oil and gas industry when, in fact, a majority of the job involves overseeing the country’s nuclear weapons in addition to researching new methods of creating energy.
“If you asked him on that first day he said yes, he would have said, ‘I want to be an advocate for energy,'” said Republican energy lobbyist, Michael McKenna. McKenna was also a Perry adviser during the former governor’s 2016 presidential campaign.
“If you asked him now, he’d say, ‘I’m serious about the challenges facing the nuclear complex.’ It’s been a learning curve,” McKenna said.
About 68 per cent of the department’s fiscal year 2016 budget is dedicated to creating and maintaining nuclear weapons across the country’s network of facilities where they are held. Another 28 per cent of the department’s funding is spent on research and development to create cleaner and more efficient ways of producing energy.
Perry was a critic of the Energy Department when he ran for president in 2012 and famously forgot its nameduring a presidential debate while listing government agencies he would eliminate.
If confirmed by the Senate, The Times noted, Perry could succeed current energy secretary Ernest Moniz who chaired the physics department at MIT.
According to Moniz, under President Barack Obama’s administration, the Energy Department has been working on refurbishing its nuclear weapons instead of modernising them like other nations such as China and Russia have done.
It is unclear what direction Trump’s administration will take the department in, although the president-elect has advocated for nuclear proliferation.
Perry’s confirmation hearing with the Senate Energy Committee is set for Thursday.
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