President Donald Trump’s Department of Energy touted natural gas as “molecules of freedom” in a bizarre news release.
In an otherwise dry press statement about new approval being granted to Houston-based Freeport LNG to export liquefied natural gas from a new plant the company plans to build in Texas, the Trump administration touted rebranded natural gas as “freedom gas.”
“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,” U.S. Under Secretary of Energy Mark Menezes said in the release.
“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,” added Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy Steven Winberg.
Did a European reporter coin “freedom gas”?
The phrase appears to have originated from a reporter from EURACTIV after Perry signed an order seeking to double US natural gas exports to Europe.
The reporter asked Perry if “freedom gas” would be a “fair way of describing US LNG exports to Europe.”
“The United States is again delivering a form of freedom to the European continent,” Perry replied. “And rather than in the form of young American soldiers, it’s in the form of liquefied natural gas. So yes, I think you may be correct in your observation.”
Experts skeptical about Trump admin plan:
The DOE is “using the U.S. oil-and-gas boom to provide geopolitical leverage,” Axios reported, both when it comes to helping absorb the loss of Iranian exports due to sanctions and to act as a check against Russia, which supplies much of Europe’s energy.
Nikos Tsafos, an energy and geopolitics expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told the outlet that he was skeptical that increased US exports would give European countries more leverage against Russia given their dominance over the market.
"Freedom gas implies some political side effects — the idea that by relying on Russian gas, a country is somehow political subservient to Russia too. That’s the entire theory of it all. So once Lithuania or Poland get non-Russian gas, their *political* freedom to maneuver, their national security, their strategic posture will be enhanced," he told Axios. "This is mostly a hypothesis, not a proven fact, and yet it is generally treated as a real fact, which leads people to rhapsodize about the political benefits of U.S. LNG. It would be helpful if these grand statements on the geopolitical benefits of U.S. LNG were subjected to empirical tests."