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Trump officially selects former Gov. Rick Perry for energy secretary

President-elect Donald Trump has officially selected former Gov. Rick Perry, a former rival turned loyalist, to lead the Department of Energy.

Gov. Rick Perry addresses media at a press conference following the unveiling of his official portrait at the Texas Capitol on May 6, 2016

Editor's note: This story has been edited throughout.

President-elect Donald Trump has officially selected former Gov. Rick Perry, a rival turned loyalist, to lead the U.S. Department of Energy. 

Trump formalized the appointment in a statement early Wednesday morning, two days after reports surfaced that he had settled on Perry to be his energy secretary.

"As the Governor of Texas, Rick Perry created created a business climate that produced millions of new jobs and lower energy prices in his state, and he will bring that same approach to our entire country as Secretary of Energy,” Trump said in a statement. "My administration is going to make sure we take advantage of our huge natural resource deposits to make America energy independent and create vast new wealth for our nation, and Rick Perry is going to do an amazing job as the leader of that process."

Perry's appointment quickly won support Wednesday morning from Texas Republicans, including the two tasked with confirming him, U.S. Sens. John Cornyn and Ted Cruz.

"I’m thrilled with the President-elect’s decision to bring a proven Texas leader like Governor Perry into his Administration," Cornyn said in a statement. “A good friend, proud veteran, and dedicated public servant, I look forward to supporting Governor Perry’s nomination.”

If confirmed by the Senate, Perry will oversee American energy policy and its consequences for the economy, environment and national security. His experience running Texas, a state rife with natural resources, would come in handy. 

Perry would also helm the department whose name he infamously forgot during a 2011 presidential debate while listing the three federal departments he wanted to eliminate. On Tuesday, Trump aides expressed little concern about the irony of the potential appointment, saying Trump's Cabinet members will carry out his agenda, not theirs. 

Perry is the second Texan that Trump has tapped for his Cabinet. Trump announced Tuesday he will nominate Rex Tillerson, CEO of Irving-based Exxon Mobil, for secretary of state.

Perry is not seen as being as controversial a pick as Tillerson, whose close ties to Russia are likely to be scrutinized by lawmakers. The former governor could still face some tough questions, including some related to his membership on the board of Energy Transfer Partners, the Dallas-based company whose Dakota Access Pipeline project has encountered fierce resistance in North Dakota.

Perry met with Trump on Monday in New York, his second trip to the billionaire's namesake tower since the election. The former governor kept a relatively low profile during the process, entering and leaving without speaking to reporters.

Things weren't always friendly between Perry and Trump. During his own 2016 presidential run, Perry harshly criticized Trump as a "cancer on conservatism" but quickly got behind him when he became the presumptive GOP nominee.

On Wednesday morning, the 2016 presidential candidate Perry backed before Trump — Cruz — said the former governor "will make a terrific Secretary of Energy."

"His executive experience across diverse policy areas makes him qualified to run just about any federal agency," Cruz said in a statement. "I enthusiastically support his nomination as Secretary of Energy." 

Perry's successor, Greg Abbott, also praised the appointment, saying in a statement that "Trump continues to surround himself with individuals who share his commitment to overhauling the job-killing regulatory environment created by the Obama administration." Under Perry, Abbott added, Texas "experienced unprecedented growth in the energy sector." 

Abby Livingston contributed to this report. 

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Disclosure: Exxon Mobil has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune. A complete list of Tribune donors and sponsors can be viewed here.

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