Energy chief Perry: Fossil fuels can prevent sexual assault

WASHINGTON, DC - OCTOBER 16: U.S. Secretary of Energy Rick Perry speaks at the Energy Policy Summit at the National Press Club, October 16, 2017 in Washington, DC.(Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (AP) — Energy Secretary Rick Perry says he thinks using fossil fuels can help prevent sexual assault.

Perry said Thursday that using fossil fuels to power electricity can help villages in Africa and other developing regions. He said during a recent visit to Africa, a young girl told him electricity was important to her because she has to read by the light of a fire with noxious fumes.

Speaking at an event sponsored by Axios and NBC News, Perry said electricity also was important “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.”

From the standpoint “of how you really affect people’s lives, fossil fuels … play a role in that,” Perry said. “I happen to think it’s going to play a positive role.”

Perry’s remark comes amid an uproar over sexual-assault allegations against film mogul Harvey Weinstein that has spread to other industries and politics.

Perry has been challenging what he calls an inaccurate narrative pushed by environmentalists that fossil fuels are harmful because they contribute to climate change. He says fossil fuels such as oil, coal and natural gas foster economic development and jobs and are an important strategic asset for the United States.

Perry and President Donald Trump are promoting increased domestic energy production as part of a strategy to achieve U.S. “energy dominance” in the global market.

Michael Brune, executive director of the Sierra Club, the nation’s largest environmental group, called Perry’s comments offensive.

“It was already clear that Rick Perry is unfit to lead the Department of Energy, but to suggest that fossil fuel development will decrease sexual assault is not only blatantly untrue, it is an inexcusable attempt to minimize a serious and pervasive issue,” Brune said in a statement.

“Women, and particularly women of color, are among the most severely impacted by the climate crisis, and it is these same communities that are most at risk of sexual assault,” Brune said.

Perry’s “attempt to exploit this struggle to justify further dangerous fossil fuel development is unacceptable,” Brune said, adding that Perry should resign immediately.

Perry’s office did not immediately respond to requests for comment. provides commenting to allow for constructive discussion on the stories we cover. In order to comment here, you acknowledge you have read and agreed to our Terms of Service. Commenters who violate these terms, including use of vulgar language or racial slurs, will be banned. Please be respectful of the opinions of others and keep the conversation on topic and civil. If you see an inappropriate comment, please flag it for our moderators to review.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s