E&E editor Ellen M. Gilmer was ready to delete what appeared to be a regular run-of-the-mill press release from the Department of Energy this week, until she noticed a peculiar line. Delving into the article further, Gilmer noticed an attempt to rebrand natural gas exports, originating from the U.S., as “freedom gas.”
— Ellen M. Gilmer (@ellengilmer) May 29, 2019
Energy officials in the department made several attempts within the official government press release to tout the supposed cleanness of natural gas. In doing so, they also made a puzzling move at rebranding the energy source, attempting to tie it to the American value of freedom.
“Increasing export capacity…is critical to spreading freedom gas throughout the world by giving America’s allies a diverse and affordable source of clean energy,” the press release quoted U.S. Under Secretary of Energy Mark W. Menezes as saying.
It didn’t stop there. The release also quoted Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy Steven Winberg, who made another dubious rebrand attempt.
“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,” Winberg said.
“Freedom gas.” “Molecules of freedom.” The ideas were immediately lampooned on social media, where people saw through the facade.
Rick Perry and the Dept. of Energy are now calling gas “freedom gas” and fossil fuels “molecules of freedom.” A little patriotism makes all the science go away! How do we get off this carousel of stupidity? https://t.co/UQzHFHW87U
— Adam Best (@adamcbest) May 30, 2019
— Dan (@danbrotherston) May 29, 2019
I miss when freedom gas was what boomers leaked after a big meal at cheesecake factory. pic.twitter.com/DkLz4nbBID
— RickyFTW (@rickyftw) May 29, 2019
And I hereby brand solar energy "photons of freedom".
molecules move at the rate of molecular diffusion.
photons move at the speed of light.https://t.co/cWWaoJXZlB
— Prof Michael E. Mann (@MichaelEMann) May 29, 2019
Posted without comment, except to say that Orwell knew what he was talking about. https://t.co/GXaIyAOkZE
— Jim Beaver (@jumblejim) May 30, 2019
Beyond the rebranding of natural gas to “freedom gas” that social media users noted, there are also concerns over the implications being made that the fossil fuel is considered a “clean” form of energy.
While it is true that natural gas burns at a much higher rate of efficiency, producing a better output of electricity when it’s burned versus coal, the gas, sometimes called a “bridge fuel” between fossil fuels and renewable energy sources, has its problems.
One issue is leaks, a problem so pervasive that some studies suggest it outweighs any benefits that natural gas may bring us versus other forms of fossil fuels. Natural gas contains methane, a compound that is a greenhouse gas and considered more harmful than carbon due to its ability to trap heat in the atmosphere, according to reporting from The Week. When the gas leaks into the atmosphere it does untold harm, compounding the problem of global climate change and the warming of our planet.
The burning of natural gas still releases carbon dioxide as well, whereas true clean energies (e.g. renewable energy sources like wind or solar) do not.
The rebranding of natural gas to “freedom gas” seems to have originated from the top, with Secretary of Energy Rick Perry, according to reporting from Slate. Touting the fuel’s increase in exports to Europe earlier this year, a reporter asked him if they should call the source “freedom gas.”
“I think you may be correct in your observation,” Perry responded.
What's Your Reaction?
Chris Walker is a freelance writer based out of Madison, Wisconsin. A millennial with more than a decade of journalism experience, Chris aims to provide readers with the latest and most accurate news of national importance. Chris likes to spend his free time doing activities in his community with his family.