www.youtube.com

Did Rick Perry really just bring fossil fuels into the fight against sex assault?

"From the standpoint of sexual assault, when the lights are on, when you have a light that shines, the righteousness, if you will, on those types of acts."


That's Energy Secretary Rick Perry, at an energy forum Thursday hosted by NBC News and Axios.

He was speaking about energy security, prompted in part by a recent trip to Africa where he met a young girl who reads from the light of a fire that also produces sooty – and harmful, especially to children's developing lungs – smoke.

Lack of access to electricity is a legitimately huge issue: The World Bank estimates 15 percent of the world's population – some 1.25 billion people – had no access in 2014 to a technology that almost everyone in the United States (except Puerto Rico) takes for granted. Nearly half were in rural areas of Sub-­Saharan Africa, and nearly a third were rural dwellers in South Asia.

Meanwhile more than 3 billion people lack access to clean cooking fuels and technology, the World Bank says.

But to call fossil fuels virtuous because they provide light that helps fight a very serious threat like sexual assault?

That was a bit much for some.

"We all need light in the dark, but what we don't need are the host of calamitous impacts of dirty fossil fuels on society: Air and water pollution, destruction of natural landscapes, deadly human health effects and global climate chaos," said Food & Water Watch Executive Director Wenonah Hauter.

"It's time to acknowledge the better path forward: Renewable power from clean and abundant resources."

The Sierra Club found the comment so beyond the pale it called for Perry to resign.

A 2013 Food & Water Watch study on the fracking's social impacts in Pennsylvania found that, in counties where fossil fuel development was heaviest, sexually transmitted diseases were 62 percent higher than areas without. Arrest rates for disorderly conduct were higher, too, the group found.

The World Bank lists seven ways to close the electrification gap, including moving toward renewable fuels and increasing energy efficiency.

Print Friendly and PDF
SUBSCRIBE TO EHN'S MUST-READ DAILY NEWSLETTER: ABOVE THE FOLD
From our Newsroom

Researchers, doctors call for regulators to reassess safety of taking acetaminophen during pregnancy

The painkiller, taken by half of pregnant women worldwide, could be contributing to rising rates of reproductive system problems and neurodevelopmental disorders like ADHD and autism.

LISTEN: Azmal Hossan on the sociology of climate crises in South Asia

"If we look at the rate of carbon emissions, most is emitted by the developed and industrialized countries, but the problem is poor countries like Bangladesh are the main sufferers."

Op-ed: We don’t have time for another fossil fuel bridge

Those holding up carbon capture and hydrogen as new climate solutions are leading us down the wrong path.

Climate storytelling: Creativity and imagination in the face of bleak realities

Working with youth writers on a climate-fiction screenplay has opened my eyes to the power of the arts in confronting environmental crises.

Ocean plastic pollution

Too much plastic is ending up in the ocean — and making its way back onto our dinner plates.

Peter Dykstra: Protected by an alphabet soup of acronyms

CITES, CCAMLR, LDC, MBTA, CBD, Ramsar, LWCF ... they may make your eyes glaze over, but they protect our health and planet.

Above The Fold

Daily & Weekly newsletters all free.