Average cost of energy per energy source, in dollars per megawatt-hour, 2011-2017. Graphic: Reuters

By Joe Romm
8 March 2018

(ThinkProgress) – Energy Secretary Rick Perry said on Wednesday that it was “immoral” to help poor nations shift off of fossil fuels.

“Look those people in the eyes that are starving and tell them you can’t have electricity,” said Perry in remarks after his big 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.”

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.

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. [Pollution kills more people each year than war, AIDS, and malaria combined.]

Finally, there’s climate change, a subject Perry conspicuously never mentioned in his big CERAweek speech. But as the Financial Times reported Wednesday, “Fossil fuel companies risk wasting almost $1.6 trillion on oil, gas, and coal projects that will become uneconomic” if the world adopts the policies needed to avoid catastrophic global warming. [more]

Energy Secretary Rick Perry says moving from fossil fuels to renewables is ‘immoral’

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