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Energy Secretary Rick Perry speaks with Jim VandeHei and Chuck Todd at an Axios/NBC energy policy event Thursday morning in Washington, D.C. Photo: Chuck Kennedy / Axios

At an Axios and NBC discussion about the administration's energy policy priorities Thursday morning, Energy Secretary Rick Perry indicated he thinks using fossil fuels can help prevent sexual assault. The quote, in full:

"I just got back from Africa, I'm going to finish up with this, because I think I heard a lady say there are people dying. Let me tell you where people are dying, is in Africa, because of the lack of energy they have there. And it's going to take fossil fuels to push power out into those villages in Africa, where a young girl told me to my face, 'one of the reasons that electricity is so important to me is not only because I'm not going to have to try to read by the light of a fire and have those fumes literally killing people.' But also from the standpoint of sexual assault. When the lights are on, when you have light that shines, the righteousness, if you will, on those types of acts. So from the standpoint of how you really affect people's lives, fossil fuels is going to play a role in that. I happen to think it's going to play a positive role."

Bottom line: Perry didn't connect enough dots to effectively make an argument that access to energy (fossil fuels or otherwise) could prevent sexual assault. A University College London study found — after studying 63 cities over 14 years — that darker streets are not necessarily less safe. In places with reduced lighting, there was no increase in sexual assaults.

Big picture: The comment is part of a wider effort by Perry to challenge the environmental narrative that fossil fuels are harmful due to their contribution to climate change. Perry has cited the benefits of fossil fuels to developing countries and also called U.S. resources an important strategic asset.

Go deeper

J&J and Merck to partner for COVID vaccine production to boost supply

Empty vials that contained a dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine against the COVID-19. Photo: Phill Magakoe/AFP via Getty Images

President Biden will announce Tuesday that pharmaceutical giant Merck will help Johnson & Johnson manufacture its newly authorized coronavirus vaccine to boost supply, a senior administration official tells Axios.

The big picture: The development has the potential to vastly increase supply, possibly doubling what the J&J could make on its own, the official said. The company has run into challenges while trying to expand its vaccine production to a global scale.

Casinos throw cash at sports betting media

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Casinos are investing millions on sports betting content to lure bettors to their online and in-person sportsbooks.

Why it matters: It’s a mini gold rush for some sports media companies that were struggling in the pandemic.

Ben Geman, author of Generate
26 mins ago - Energy & Environment

Global carbon emissions rebound to pre-COVID levels

Newly released data show that global CO2 emissions had returned to pre-pandemic levels by the end of last year and surpassed them in some major economies.

Why it matters: The International Energy Agency warned that clean energy efforts are falling short.