"Stubborn opposition" to fossil fuels is standing in the way of lifting billions of people out of poverty, U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry told a major gathering of natural gas professionals on Tuesday.
Perry is spearheading President Donald Trump's goal of making the United States the dominant player in the global energy market. On Tuesday, he touted the nation's rank as the world's biggest natural gas producer and second-biggest crude oil driller in a keynote speech at the triennial World Gas Conference in Washington, D.C.
He added, however, that some domestic and foreign forces are working against the Trump administration's goal of promoting prosperity through energy security.
"I wish I could tell you that the entire developed world is on board with our vision. I wish I could, but I cannot," he said. "In some quarters, at home and abroad, there is still this stubborn opposition to natural gas and other fossil fuels."
"The opposition exists even as fossil fuels become cleaner and low-emission natural gas increases its share of total fossil production and use. These opponents flatly reject the all-of-the-above strategy, the innovation-driven strategy that's helping us achieve energy security," Perry told the conference.
Surging natural gas production, along with renewable energy, has indeed pushed dirtier fuels like coal out of the energy mix. Technologies designed to scrub emissions from coal-burning plants have made little commercial progress, however, and many developing nations have plans to build coal-fired facilities.
Much of the opposition to fossil fuels centers around concerns over global warming, as well as the potential impact on vulnerable communities from sea level rise and other consequences of the world's changing climate. Perry has publicly denied the scientific consensus that carbon dioxide emissions from human activity, including burning fossil fuels, are the primary cause of climate change.