U.S. energy officials are rebranding domestic natural gas as “freedom gas” and “molecules of freedom” while promoting its export around the world.
The bizarre language was used in a press release by the Energy Department on Tuesday, announcing that it has authorized increasing liquefied natural gas (LNG) exports from a Gulf Coast terminal near Freeport, Texas.
“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 U.S. Undersecretary of Energy Mark W. Menezes in a statement.
Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy Steven Winberg also echoed this description, stating: “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.”
It’s not clear whether this verbiage is also used by Freeport LNG to describe its natural gas. Representatives for the company and the Energy Department did not immediately respond to requests for comment on Thursday.
Energy Secretary Rick Perry, according to an article by RealClear Energy, suggested such a name for the gas earlier this month while speaking in Brussels about America’s export of liquefied natural gas.
“The United States is again delivering a form of freedom to the European continent,” he said, comparing the fuel to the U.S. helping liberate Europe from Nazi Germany occupation in World War II. “And rather than in the form of young American soldiers, it’s in the form of liquefied natural gas.”
Though the terminology may have been endorsed by energy officials, it’s been widely ridiculed by the general public as well as environmental activists who call it an attempt to dress up corporate pollution with patriotic rhetoric.
“This has to be a joke,” Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, a Democratic presidential candidate, tweeted on Wednesday while likening the redubbing to “freedom fries” ― the brief rebranding of French fries in 2003 after France opposed the U.S.-led war in Iraq.
“Freedom is generally good,” Inslee continued, “but freedom from glaciers, freedom from clean air, freedom from healthy forests that aren’t on fire, and freedom from the world we know and cherish is not what we seek.”
Environmental organization the Sierra Club also slammed the terminology as “a new low” for the Trump administration.
“Freedom isn’t American communities saddled with undrinkable water, families getting sick from pollution or neighborhoods getting cut up by dirty, dangerous fracked gas pipelines,” said Sierra Club Executive Director Michael Brune in a statement.
“The Trump Administration is dressing up its push to help corporate polluters profit in patriotic rhetoric while they launch assault after assault on the health of our communities and our families. It is past time this administration focuses on preserving freedom here at home rather than destroying our communities to help a few billionaires make more money,” he said.
Others on social media likened the rebranding to flatulence, a headline from the satirical website “The Onion,” and a brainwashing term out of a totalitarian government. Check out some of the responses below.