Energy Secretary Rick Perry, who leads a $2 billion clean energy program, argued on Wednesday that global efforts to shift away from fossil fuels were “immoral” by denying developing nations the plentiful, cheap energy needed to lift people out of poverty.
“Look those people in the eyes that are starving and tell them you can’t have electricity,” Perry said in remarks after his speech to the oil and gas industry at the annual CERAWeek energy conference in Houston. “Because as a society we decided fossil fuels were bad. I think that is immoral.”
“America is now on the cusp of energy independence, but the president wants to see this go further. He wants to share America’s energy bounty with the world,” Perry said. “We’re going to be exporting multiple fuels, and we will export the same technologies that made us a clean, abundant energy producer.”
But as ThinkProgress notes, “Perry seems completely unaware that solar and wind are now cheaper sources of electricity than fossil fuels.”
Indeed, solar power keeps crushing its own record for cheapest unsubsidized electricity “ever, anywhere, by any technology.” And in Colorado, building new renewable power plus battery storage is now cheaper than running old coal plants.
Second, what’s immoral is not shifting away from dirty fossil fuels, but blindly sticking with them. A recent study shows that 1.1 million people die prematurely every year in India from air pollution, which primarily comes from burning fossil fuels.
And a 2017 Lancet study concluded that globally, air, water, and soil pollution kill more than 9 million people a year. Air pollution alone accounts for 4.5 million deaths, and those numbers are projected to rise sharply in developing countries in the coming years.
Perry’s logic and morality are both blinkered. First, despite being in charge of a $2 billion clean energy program, Perry seems completely unaware that solar and wind are now cheaper sources of electricity than fossil fuels.