Jingoistic nationalism and promoting fossil fuels go hand in hand for the Trump administration. But the Department of Energy took that connection to a new level on Tuesday with a press release touting natural gas as “freedom gas” full of—I feel stupid even typing this—“molecules of U.S. freedom.” Which I guess means we now definitively know the cost of freedom: According to the global market, it’s $2.64 per million BTUs as of Wednesday late morning.
The Trump administration’s love of natural gas has been well documented from its attempts to rollback methane regulations to updating the Environmental Protection Agency’s pages about it with standard industry talking points. The administration has also attempted to help streamline production and delivery of climate-polluting gas to the global market, which is ostensibly what the Department of Energy was touting in its latest press release. The whole thing starts with some pretty standard stuff about the agency signing off on increasing exports of natural gas from a facility in Freeport, Texas. But it quickly veers into the realm of the bizarre as it quotes Department of Energy officials. To wit, here’s Under Secretary of Energy Mark Menezes:
“Increasing export capacity from the Freeport LNG project is critical to spreading freedom gas throughout the world by giving America’s allies a diverse and affordable source of clean energy.”
We get it. The agency loves gas and the Republican construct of American freedom and the big, strong men that work on natural gas fields and fracking rigs. But in case that wasn’t clear enough, the press release adds this quote from Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy Steven Winberg:
“With the U.S. in another year of record-setting natural gas production, I am pleased that the Department of Energy is doing what it can to promote an efficient regulatory system that allows for molecules of U.S. freedom to be exported to the world.”
Comparing the U.S. concept of freedom to a combustible mix of hydrocarbons like methane is actually pretty spot on these days, but something tells me that’s not what the assistant secretary was going for. Instead, the two quotes look like a pathetic attempt to rebrand natural gas in the vein of freedom fries, something Energy Secretary Rick Perry himself did last year at Davos with only slightly more tact. And they come off like some kind of off-brand energy drink or new weed strain, proving that we continue to live in the absolute stupidest, most destructive timeline.
But beyond the farcical language, nothing could be further from the truth about natural gas being a pathway to freedom. Natural gas is a source of methane and carbon dioxide, both greenhouse gases that are cooking the planet. And gas itself is a reason why U.S. emissions rose last year. Exporting it locks countries into generating energy from a dirty (albeit slightly less dirty than coal) fuel and puts the world on track to climate chaos.