'Molecules of freedom': US Energy Department tries rebranding natural gas

The phrase was used in a press release related to exports from Texas.

May 30, 2019, 3:47 AM

In a press release touting exports of natural gas, the Department of Energy referred to the fossil fuel as "molecules of U.S. freedom."

The statement, dated May 28, issued from the Tenth Clean Energy Ministerial in Vancouver, British Columbia, was touting a natural gas facility on Quintana Island in Texas.

An expansion of the Freeport LNG Terminal -- with "LNG" referring to natural gas that's liquefied, for easier transport -- will support 3,000 additional engineering and construction jobs, the department said in the statement.

"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," said Under Secretary of Energy Mark Menezes. "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."

Menezes added: "There's no doubt today's announcement furthers this Administration's commitment to promoting energy security and diversity worldwide."

Natural gas is burned off near pumps in Watford City, N.D., June 12, 2014.
Charles Rex Arbogast/AP, FILE

Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy Steven Winberg, who signed the export order and also attended the Clean Energy Ministerial, said he was "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."

The department said it expects domestic natural gas production to reach record rates this year and again in 2020.

Natural gas burns cleaner than coal, according to data compiled by the U.S. Energy Information Administration, contributing about 117 pounds of carbon dioxide to the atmosphere per million British thermal units compared with 200 pounds from coal. Natural gas leaks also are responsible for about one-third of all U.S. emissions of methane, a greenhouse gas that contributes significantly to climate change.