Energy Secretary Rick Perry suggested Thursday that fossil fuels will help prevent sexual assaults in Africa, The Hill reports.
Perry spoke about his recent trip to Africa with “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd and Axios founder Jim VandeHei during a discussion about energy policy, and suggested that electricity prevents sexual assault.
“I just got back from Africa,” Perry said. “I think I heard a lady say there are people dying. Let me tell you where people are dying, is in Africa, because of the lack of energy they have there.”
“And it’s going to take fossil fuels to push power out into those villages in Africa, where a young girl told me to my face, ‘one of the reasons that electricity is so important to me is not only because I’m not going to have to try to read by the light of a fire and have those fumes literally killing people,’” Perry recalled. “But also from the standpoint of sexual assault When the lights are on, when you have light that shines, the righteousness, if you will, on those types of acts.”
“So from the standpoint of how you really affect people’s lives, fossil fuels is going to play a role in that,” he added. “I happen to think it’s going to play a positive role.”
Perry also touched on climate change, admitting that it’s real and humans “have an impact on it,” but qualified his statement by claiming, “I still think the science is out” on whether humans are the main driver of climate change. As Axios notes, there is a scientific consensus that humans are the primary driver of climate change.
Perry insisted that coal is vital to power America because there’s “no guarantee” there will be wind to power windmills, which is not an actual concern.
“If you can guarantee me that the wind’s going to blow tomorrow…then I’ll buy into that,” Perry said. “But you can’t…Our job is to make sure the electricity’s on.”
Perry’s market argument for coal, essentially that it’s necessary to the energy industry because many forms of renewable energy are not yet able to power the country, is in stark contrast with his policy proposals.
Last month, Perry asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to adopt his new rule to pay coal and nuclear power plants more than they would earn on the market in order to push these power plants to stockpile fuel in case of emergency.
As The New York Times points out, “Mr. Perry’s plan is premised on two unfounded claims: First, it assumes that coal and nuclear power plants, because they can stockpile fuel on site, are uniquely able to enhance the ‘reliability and resiliency’ of the electric power grid, especially in times of fuel supply disruptions. Second, it assumes that those plants are being driven out of business by unfair subsidies to renewable-energy producers, as Mr. Perry has repeatedly claimed or implied.”
Perry’s own department has found that retiring aging coal plants does not reduce reliability.
“Reliability is adequate today despite the retirement of 11 percent of the generating capacity available in 2002, as significant additions from natural gas, wind, and solar have come online since then,” the department’s report said.