– Energy Secretary Rick Perry has a message for those seeking to link climate change with this year’s devastating hurricanes: Fossil fuels are saving lives.

Perry’s address to oil industry executives Monday was interrupted by hecklers protesting the Trump administration’s skepticism of climate change and its rollback of regulations. The former Texas governor told a meeting of the National Petroleum Council that they should be proud of what they do — not sheepish.

“This industry is leading the world in affecting the climate and affecting the climate in a positive way,” Perry said. “I’m proud to be a part of this industry. You want to talk about saving lives, that’s what we are doing.”

Perry waited until the end of his remarks to address the protesters, noting efforts in Texas reducing carbon dioxide and other pollution there, and that U.S. liquefied natural gas, which emits less carbon than coal, is being used to replace use of dirty coal plants. Increased access to energy is saving lives in parts of Africa, he added, repeating an industry talking point.

“It upsets me when some guy stands up and says, ‘What are you going to do, you’re killing people,’ ” Perry said to applause. “No sir. You want to kill people, you take energy away from them and you see how those North African countries will be treated.”

Two hecklers were ejected from the hotel conference room after interrupting Perry’s remarks to the outside advisory group, whose members include executives from oil giants such as Exxon Mobil and Royal Dutch Shell.

Bloomberg News