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‘Blatantly untrue’: US energy secy says fossil fuels can prevent sexual assault

Rick Perry also said that he does not believe that humans are the main drivers of climate change.

world Updated: Nov 03, 2017 08:27 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times, New Delhi
US energy secretary Rick Perry,President Donald Trump,sexual assault
File photo of US energy secretary Rick Perry.(AFP)

US energy secretary Rick Perry is the latest member of President Donald Trump’s cabinet to make a bizarre statement — he claims fossils fuels can help prevent sexual assault by keeping the lights on.

Speaking at an event hosted by Axios and NBC in Washington on Thursday, Perry said during a recent trip to Africa, a young girl had told him that energy is important to her because she often reads by the light of a fire with toxic fumes, The Hill reported.

“And it’s going to take fossil fuels to push power out into those villages in Africa, where a young girl said 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 and read by the light of a fire and have those fumes literally kill people,” Perry was quoted as saying.

“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,” he added.

It is unclear why Perry chose to bring up sexual assault at the event.

Perry also said that he does not believe that humans are the main drivers of climate change, with NBC reporting that he told moderators Jim VandeHei and Chuck Todd, “I still think the science is out”.

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 US “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 colour, 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.

(With Reuters inputs)

First Published: Nov 02, 2017 23:46 IST