The US Department of Energy either has a sense of humour or they’ve allowed a PR maven to run amok. For they’ve just issued a press release in which exports of LNG – liquefied natural gas – are described as “freedom gas” and “molecules of US freedom”. The really fun part of this being that the very issuance of the press release, the announcement that they’ve allowed the exports, is evidence of that lack of economic freedom they’re touting.
Because why do free people need a licence to sell to foreigners?[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]US energy department rebrands gas exports ‘molecules of freedom'[/perfectpullquote]
It is a bit of a giggle, certainly:[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]In a press release published on Tuesday, two Department of Energy officials used the terms “freedom gas” and “molecules of US freedom” to replace your average, everyday term “natural gas.”[/perfectpullquote]
Well, it’s not natural gas, it’s LNG. Sufficiently different that using a different phrase to distinguish is important.[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Remember freedom fries? ‘Freedom gas’ is now a thing, Energy Department says
In announcing increased exports of a vital fuel, Energy Department officials also renamed liquefied natural gas “molecules of U.S. freedom.”[/perfectpullquote]
Well, yes, the actual press release is here.[perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Today, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) advanced its commitment to promoting clean energy, job creation, and economic growth by approving additional exports of domestically produced natural gas from the Freeport LNG Terminal located on Quintana Island, Texas. The announcement was made at the Tenth Clean Energy Ministerial (CEM10) in Vancouver, Canada where DOE is highlighting its efforts to advance clean energy. The expansion of the Freeport LNG facility is estimated to support up to 3,000 engineering and construction jobs and hundreds of indirect jobs associated with the project.[/perfectpullquote] [perfectpullquote align=”full” bordertop=”false” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]“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. Further, more exports of U.S. LNG to the world means more U.S. jobs and more domestic economic growth and cleaner air here at home and around the globe,” said U.S. Under Secretary of Energy Mark W. Menezes, who highlighted the approval at the Clean Energy Ministerial in Vancouver, Canada. “There’s no doubt today’s announcement furthers this Administration’s commitment to promoting energy security and diversity worldwide.”[/perfectpullquote]
And yet here’s the thing about that freedom. Why does, why should they, anyone need a licence from the government to export LNG? Note what this isn’t. It’s not a licence saying “and sure, your plant now meets standards.” With something as explosive as natural gas that’s fair enough perhaps, to require one of those. No, this licence is the government taking upon itself the power to regulate who you may sell your own produce to. Which isn’t actually freedom, is it?
And only a few years back they denied such licences too. LNG ones were difficult to get, crude oil ones impossible. So, we could indeed describe this as exporting freedom – the market is freer than it was. Or we could say that it’s not freedom given the requirement to even apply for the licence.