Perry links fossil fuel development to preventing sexual assault

Energy Secretary Rick PerryJames (Rick) Richard PerryPerry pictured with falcon, sword during trek to Saudi Arabia Trump promised ‘best people’ would run government — they upended it US oil and gas boom will actually help spur energy revolution MORE suggested Thursday that expanding the use of fossil fuels could help prevent sexual assault.

Speaking during an energy policy discussion about energy policy with “Meet the Press” host Chuck Todd and Axios CEO and founder Jim VandeHei, Perry discussed his recent trip to Africa. He said a young girl told him that energy is important to her because she often reads by the light of a fire with toxic fumes.

"But also from the standpoint of sexual assault,” Perry said. “When the lights are on, when you have light that shines, the righteousness, if you will on those types of acts.”

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Perry said that using fossil fuel to push power into remote villages in Africa is necessary and will have a “positive role” in peoples’ lives.

President Trump has called for expanding domestic production of fossil fuels for export.

The Department of Energy says Perry’s statement was meant to highlight the way electricity will improve the lives of people in Africa.

“The secretary was making the important point that while many Americans take electricity for granted there are people in other countries who are impacted by their lack of electricity,” Shaylyn Hynes, an agency spokeswoman said.

In Africa for an energy conference last week, “one person told him about how light can be a deterrent to sexual assault and security in remote areas,” Hynes said. “Another leader told him about how women in their country have to go to the store every day for a new carton of milk because they don't have a working refrigerator. Those powerful stories stuck with him and that is what he was sharing with the crowd in Washington today.”

—Updated at 3:09 p.m.