Energy Secretary Rick Perry to Hecklers: Fossil Fuels Save Lives

September 26, 2017, 10:27 AM UTC

Energy Secretary Rick Perry has news for those who don’t like the Trump administration’s climate policies: fossil fuels save lives.

On Monday, an address by Perry to oil industry executives was interrupted by hecklers who were protesting the Trump administration’s environmental policies and skepticism of climate change. Perry did not back down from the criticism, however. Instead, he asserted that “this industry is leading the world in affecting the climate and affecting the climate in a positive way.”

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He continued, “I’m proud to be a part of this industry. You want to talk about saving lives that’s what we’re doing,” according to Bloomberg. Perry contended that coal is being replaced by liquefied natural gas, which emits less carbon. Furthermore, he said, increased access to energy is saving lives in developing countries.

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Perry’s stance on climate change has historically been skeptical. Initially, he denied climate change entirely, calling the science behind it a “contrived, phony mess.” Once nominated to Trump’s cabinet, however, his views have changed slightly. Perry now acknowledges that global warming is real, but has questioned the extent of humanity’s role in its perpetuation.

In early September, Perry called the effects of climate change “secondary” to the cause of Hurricane Harvey. He told CBS News that despite record-breaking rainfall and warming seas “we can line up scientists on both sides” of the debate.