Gaseous molecules of freedom

By Dan Drollette Jr, June 14, 2019

Trump and Kim impersonatorsImage courtesy of Shutterstock

As pointed out in these pages recently, the Environmental Protection Agency has turned into the department of spin, with press releases that no longer announce regulations by talking about how they’ll improve public health and the environment. Instead, the agency now measures success by trumpeting how much will be saved in manufacturing costs.

Not to be outdone, the Energy Department has taken to becoming an unabashed cheerleader for… the fossil fuel industry.

Goodbye, energy conservation, efficiency, renewables, or new technology; hello “freedom gas.”

Yes, you read that correctly. A news release from Mark W. Menezes, the US undersecretary of the Energy Department, described the agency’s approval of increased exports of natural gas from Texas in the following way: “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.”

Such unrestrained, pro-fossil fuel boosterism sounds remarkably similar to the short film that President Trump screened for North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, that looked and felt like a pitch for a real estate development.

Unfortunately, agency heads seem to have taken freedom gas emissions as a cue to try their own hands at spin; the Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy, Steven Winberg, sent out a press release boasting of “an efficient regulatory system that allows for molecules of US freedom to be exported to the world.”

Similarly inspired, Secretary of Energy Rick Perry gave a press briefing about the doubling of shipments of US liquefied natural gas to Europe by saying “The United States is again delivering a form of freedom to the European continent… And rather than in the form of young American soldiers, it’s in the form of liquefied natural gas.”

Slate magazine responded by commenting: “Proud Americans are fracking compounds of liberty from the glorious shale beds of Texas and shipping it ‘round the world.”

All of which leads one to wonder: What’s next? Perhaps the Energy Department should also start marketing anti-communist crude, patriot petroleum, emancipation oil, liberty shale, or nationalist naphtha. Independence oil, anyone?

Meanwhile, climate scientists such as Michael Mann have been making fun of it all by calling solar energy “photons of freedom.”


Publication Name: Slate
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