Rick Perry: Fossil Fuels Help Reduce Sexual Assault

Rick Perry says that fossil fuels can help prevent sexual assault:

Energy Secretary Rick Perry suggested on Thursday that increasing fossil fuel use to spread electricity across Africa would help prevent sexual assaults there.

Perry, who traveled to South Africa last week to tout the Energy Department’s partnerships there, said he spoke with a young girl who wanted electricity so she could read without relying on the light of a fire “and have those fumes literally killing people. 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 told an Axios event.

Perry was implicitly responding to a protester who yelled that fossil fuels were causing climate change and killing people in poor countries.

“Let me tell you, where people are dying in Africa is 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.”

Since taking the helm at the Energy Department, Perry has said he doubted the scientific consensus that carbon dioxide was causing climate change, and he has sought to promote the use of fossil fuels, including pushing a plan to financially support coal-fired power plants in the U.S.

That access to fossil fuels that the U.S. has would also benefit Africa, he said.

“From the standpoint of how you really affect people’s lives, fossil fuels is going to play a role in that. I happen to think it’s going to play a positive role, and I wish we could understand it’s not just about us living here in the comfort and confines that we’re in.”4

On some level, I suppose one could view this generously by pointing out that electric lighting, especially in outdoor areas, does contribute to cutting back on crime by making it harder for those who would commit assault to get away with it unnoticed. Additionally, it’s beyond question that Africa as a whole would benefit from vast improvement in its electric and energy infrastructure. Perry, of course, didn’t say that. Instead, he attempted to make an intelligent comment and ended up doing so in perhaps the dumbest way possible. I guess the glasses aren’t working after all.


FILED UNDER: Africa, Climate Change, US Politics, , , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Not the IT Dept. says:

    Did he get hit in the head with a football during his cheerleader days? Oops, indeed.

  2. TimH says:

    LOL! Perry whether he intends to or not spotlights SUNDRY Prog talking points where Progs make similarly non-sequitur “arguments” for THEIR causes: “______ (fill in the blank with something Progs claim to despise: Oil, Football, Nationalism, Capitalism, Masculinity, etc etc..) is a direct cause of_____” (Fill in the blank with the victimization of ANY Prog Mascot group: Rape, Pay Discrepancy, Global Warming(TM), Homophobia(TM) etc etc..) LOL!!!! We’ve ALL heard it before. Perry no DUMBER than your average Prog!

  3. Franklin says:

    I don’t like to make knee-jerk reactions to seemingly outlandish statements, regardless of who they are made by. Because if they seem outlandish, it’s possible that you’re not understanding them.

    In this case, I’d actually agree that you *could* use fossil fuels to power lights, which do indeed have some effect on crime. But you could also use any number of technologies like solar-powered lights. Last I checked, Africa gets enough sun to make this worthwhile.

    His bigger point is that third world countries are going to use more and more energy, and that we can’t reasonably deny them as we sit in our comfy homes. But most of us already understood that, we just differ with deniers like Perry on how we can help those countries. Sound long term planning would suggest we continue to develop alternative technologies that harm the environment less. (And again, the argument over fossil fuels isn’t just the climate … they also cause more pollution in general, and air quality kills a lot of people right NOW.)

  4. Just 'nutha ig'nint cracker says:

    “His bigger point is that third world countries are going to use more and more energy, and that we can’t reasonably deny them as we sit in our comfy homes. ”

    That would have been a better point that I could. certainly, hope that he had made. Did he actually say anything even vaguely resembling that?

  5. Franklin says:

    @Just ‘nutha ig’nint cracker: Isn’t the last paragraph that Doug copied over sort of similar? Maybe I was just projecting from when he said “… us living here in the comfort and confines …”

  6. Franklin says:

    I guess increased night lighting doesn’t necessarily reduce crime at all. It’s a common misperception that I myself adhered to until the data was presented.

  7. Kylopod says:

    You know what also helps stop sexual assault? Not electing a sexual assaulter.

  8. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @Franklin: Criminals like to do their work in the shadows. You know what causes shadows? Lights.

  9. Flat earth luddite says:

    Rick. Mr. Perry. Sir. Buddy. Pal. Just. Shut. Up.
    I mean, dude, what are you smoking, and where do I get some?

  10. al-Ameda says:

    To be fair to Rick Perry
    I’ve heard that if a potential criminal-to-be drinks a quart of Pennzoil 30W, or drinks a half-gallon oof 87-grade unleaded gasoline, there is a 98.6% probability that there will be no sexual assault.