On last Tuesday night, E&E’s Ellen Gilmer tweeted a screenshot of a Department of Energy press release about liquid natural gas exports. In the press release, Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy Steven Winberg is quoted as saying that DOE is “doing what it can to promote an efficient regulatory system that allows for molecules of U.S. freedom to be exported around the world.”
Others subsequently noticed that elsewhere in the release, US Under Secretary of Energy Mark W. Menezes bragged about how an expanded export terminal “is critical to spreading freedom gas throughout the world.”
Like freedom gas itself, the jokes quickly poured out on Twitter: Jay Inslee harked back to freedom fries, and Politico’s Ben Lefebvre answered Perry’s past question “What’s the cost of freedom?” (About $2.60 per MMBtu, apparently.)
Jokes aside, apparently this isn’t the first time the phrase has been used at DOE. It’s consistent with the agency’s strategy to use fossil fuel exports to suggest that because the US is competing with Russia to export gas, the exports weaken Putin, who uses energy as leverage over neighboring states.
Rick Perry, Euractiv reported, even went so far as to compare selling gas to taking credit for Americans winning World War II at an event in Brussels earlier this month, saying that “The United States is again delivering a form of freedom to the European continent,”
Now, obviously, there are all sorts of other things the US could do to try and check Putin, but for some reason that’s definitely not at all related to all the connections between the president and Russia, the Trump administration has opted not to pursue those paths.
Instead, we’re going to try and make fossil fuel synonymous with freedom. You know, the freedom to die in an explosion, or be forced to temporarily relocate along with thousands of your neighbors, or have land seized under eminent domain so a pipeline for freedom gas can be built.
And, of course, the freedom to send us headlong into climate catastrophe.
So next time you’re daydreaming about freedom, don’t think about a day spent peacefully outside, with the sun on your face, wind in your hair, and waves lapping at your feet. Those energy sources, provided free to humanity, are no longer synonymous with freedom.
Freedom, now, in Trump’s America, is a gas pipeline built through your property, whether you want it or not, carrying climate-destroying oil to customers overseas, raising prices Americans pay for energy that Americans by and large recognize we need to stop burning to avoid climate crisis.
That’s Freedumb for you.