Rick Perry said Thursday that fossil fuels, far from harming people in third-world countries via climate change, can actually prevent sexual assaults, Politico reports. According to the Hill, the Energy secretary was speaking at an event with Meet the Press host Chuck Todd and the CEO of Axios. Perry, who had been in South Africa last week, said a young girl told him she wanted electricity so she didn't have to read by the light of a fire. "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."
President Trump has called for expanding exports of fossil fuels, and Perry was responding to a protester who yelled that fossil fuels are killing people in poor countries via climate change. The Los Angeles Times reports the Sierra Club has called for Perry to resign over the comments. "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," the environmental organization states.