Trump's energy pick has changed his mind on climate change, but says fighting it shouldn't cost jobs

Courtney Goldsmith
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Rick Perry ran for president in 2012 and dropped out during the nomination process of the 2016 election
Rick Perry ran for president in 2012 and dropped out during the nomination process of the 2016 election (Source: Getty)

Rick Perry, soon-to-be President Donald Trump's pick for the US Energy Department, has said he now believes climate change is a real issue but fighting it shouldn't cost the US jobs.

Trump named oil industry cheerleader Perry as his energy pick in December, and yesterday his three-and-a-half hour confirmation hearing before the Senate was one of the shortest and least contentious of Trump's nominees, Reuters said. The committee has not yet voted on his nomination.

Perry, who served as governor of Texas for 14 years as a strident opponent of environmental regulation on oil production, would be in charge of leading research on driving up US drilling, advancing renewable energy technology and maintaining the country's nuclear weapons arsenal.

In his hearing, Perry said he does believe the climate is changing, partly due to human activity – that's a change of tune from when he previously called the science "unsettled" or a "contrived, phony mess".

"The question is how do we address it in a thoughtful way that doesn’t compromise economic growth, the affordability of energy or American jobs," Perry said.

He also said statements he made in the past about abolishing the department of energy "do not reflect my current thinking".

"I regret recommending its elimination".

Trump, who will be sworn into office today at 4.30pm London time, has suggested pulling the US out of a global climate change pact signed in Paris in 2015. During his campaign, he promised to boost oil, gas and coal industries by undoing carbon emissions regulations.

Ernest Moniz, the previous secretary throughout Barack Obama's term, said on Twitter he will remain a part of the "vital conversation on climate change, clean energy innovation and nuclear security".

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