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
Credit: Eden, Janine and Jim/flickr
Originals

The I-told-you-so heard ‘round the world

When I'm in the checkout line at the grocery, the tabloids invariably catch my eye for a split second.

Keep reading...
(Credit: CA DFW)
Originals

Weed and water woes in the legendary Emerald Triangle

HUMBOLDT COUNTY, Calif.—In early September, the run of Supply Creek near Ken Norton's office on the Hoopa Valley Reservation has gone dry.

Keep reading...
Anglers at the Falls of the Ohio State Park. (Credit: William Alden/flickr)
Originals

Whose job is it to reduce toxic mercury in the Ohio River?

Mercury, which damages young brains, is flowing through industrial wastewater into the Ohio River. But the multi-state agency tasked with keeping the waterway clean hasn't tightened controls on this pollution because it doesn't have the authority to do so.

Keep reading...
Youth Climate Strike in Santa Rosa, Calif., in March 2019. (Credit: Fabrice Florin/flickr)
Originals

Together, we make mud

The noted philosopher Rodney Dangerfield described his fictional marriage in a way that provides insight into the widening gulf in U.S. environmental politics: "She's a water sign. I'm an Earth sign. Together, we make mud."

Keep reading...
From our Newsroom

Trump’s other war is going well

No, not the war against the press. Or impeachment. Or immigrants. Or reality. But the swamp-draining, regulation-stomping, soul-crushing assault on the environment.

Above The Fold

Daily & Weekly newsletters all free.