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On “Freedom Gas” and “Molecules of U.S. Freedom”: They Accurately Describe Natural Gas Revolution

Gabriella Hoffman
by Gabriella Hoffman Read Profile arrow_right_alt

On May 28, 2019, the Department of Energy announced the expansion of domestically produced liquid natural gas (LNG) exports through the Freeport LNG Terminal in Quintana Island, Texas. The press release said this move would promote “clean energy, job creation, and economic growth.”

The press release also notes this expansion of the terminal will create “3,000 engineering and construction jobs and hundreds of indirect jobs associated with the project.”

However, people are taking umbrage with the Under Secretary of Energy’s use of “freedom gas” and Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy Steven Winberg’s use of “molecules of U.S. freedom” to explain how expansion will contribute further to American energy independence.

“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. “There’s no doubt today’s announcement furthers this Administration’s commitment to promoting energy security and diversity worldwide.”

“Approval of additional LNG exports from Freeport LNG furthers this Administration’s commitment to promoting American energy, American jobs, and the American economy. Further, increased supplies of U.S. natural gas on the world market are critical to advancing clean energy and the energy security of our allies around the globe. 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, who signed the export order.

What is wrong with using “freedom gas” and “molecules of U.S. freedom”? There is a natural gas revolution afoot in this country, after all. In fact, our country will be a net energy exporter within the next year. RealClearEnergy further explains why natural gas is being greatly explored:

Natural gas has already transformed the U.S. power sector. In fact, it has been responsible for a larger share of the country’s decarbonization gains than renewables, as it replaces coal to fuel power plants. It has also made electricity cheaper, reducing wholesale prices near Ohio and Pennsylvania shale plays by 40 percent over a decade. Yet, because gases aren’t easily shipped, LNG terminals are the only way to open up America’s natural gas to world markets. 

More interestingly, an April 2019 report from the University of Chicago revealed that solar and wind increase, rather than reduce, electricity costs. Forbes energy contributor Michael Shellenberger also noted:

Solar and wind require that natural gas plants, hydro-electric dams, batteries or some other form of reliable power be ready at a moment’s notice to start churning out electricity when the wind stops blowing and the sun stops shining, I noted.

And unreliability requires solar- and/or wind-heavy places like Germany, California, and Denmark to pay neighboring nations or states to take their solar and wind energy when they are producing too much of it.

Previous studies were misleading, the economists note, because they didn’t “incorporate three key costs,” which are the unreliability of renewables, the large amounts of land they require, and the displacement of cheaper “baseload” energy sources like nuclear plants.

The same author recently lamented endorsing subsidies for renewable energy sources like solar and wind:

Like a lot of people, I used to think that subsidies to promote the switch from fossil fuels to solar and wind would be a one-time thing.

Once a solar or wind farm was built, I thought, it would produce electricity forever, without further subsidy, because sunlight and wind are free. 

Renewables would thus allow a “sustainable” and even “circular” economy without waste or mining because everything would be recycled.

But it turns out that only nuclear can produce sufficient clean energy to power a circular economy. 

The same folks triggered by “freedom gas” and “molecules of U.S. freedom” are in denial of America’s energy renaissance. Being less reliant on foreign oil is good for this country, not a detriment to our very existence.

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