Rick Perry and the Dakota Access Pipeline: What you need to know


On Monday, President-elect Donald Trump picked Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry to lead the Department of Energy. 

The pick is a curious one: During a Republican presidential primary debate in 2011, Perry completely blanked on the department's name.

But that's not the only reason the pick has incited some concern. Perry's interest in the construction of the Dakota Access pipeline has also given some reason to pause.

Perry is on the Energy Transfer Partners board of directors

Although the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced earlier this month that the Dakota pipeline would be indefinitely suspended pending a review of alternative routes, there is still the possibility that the Dakota Access pipeline could be built near the previously proposed site under a Trump administration.

Those that stand against DAPL, as the pipeline is commonly known, are likely upset with the selection of Rick Perry to lead the Department of Energy. Perry is on the board of directors of the company that is attempting to build the pipeline, joining Energy Transfer Partners in February 2015 just weeks after he stepped away from the Texas governorship.

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Perry has also been instrumental in getting legislation passed on Capitol Hill that benefited the company. In 2015 Congress passed a bill that lifted a decades-old ban on crude oil exports. Perry did his part in helping ETP to lobby in support of the bill.

The help goes both ways. When Rick Perry made a second run for the presidency, CEO of Energy Transfer Partners, Kelcy Warren, gave a total of  $6 million in donation to super PACs backing Perry in the summer of 2015. 

He once vowed to dismantle the agency he will now lead

While the gaffe in which he forgot the name of the agency is making headlines, it's the context of the statement that raises the real red flags. It was while answering a question about which departments he would dismantle as president that he fumbled.

"Commerce, Education and the, um, what's the third one there? Let's see. Oh, five — Commerce, Education and the, um ... um ... ," Perry said.

Later in the debate Perry recovered and was able to name the Department of Energy as the third he'd dismantle if elected president.

He does support some "green" ideas

After a fire damaged the Texas Governor's mansion in 2008, efforts to remodel the building included installing some fairly green ideas. "I think it's not unlike the state of Texas having a diverse portfolio of energy," he said during a tour of the new mansion, which included geothermal and solar energy options in addition to traditional means of supplying energy.

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Still, Perry's record on green energy isn't too stellar. In 2011, he threatened to veto a proposed bill in the Texas legislature that would have required an additional 500 megawatts of non-wind renewable energy in his state.