Freedom Fries to Freedom Gas

May 30, 2019

The Fossil fuel industry and its mouthpieces often embarrassing in their attempt to tie the power and wealth of the fossil oligarchs to the ideals of democracy. This sometimes leads us to do stupid things.

You know what they say, Freedom Fries are not Free.

NBC News:

The announcement this week came with the dry title “Department of Energy Authorizes Additional LNG Exports from Freeport LNG.”
“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,” it quoted Energy Undersecretary Mark Menezes as saying in explaining why the Energy Department was approving expansion of exports of liquefied natural gas, or LNG.

Yes, he said “freedom gas.”
The announcement goes on to quote Steven Winberg, the Energy Department’s assistant secretary for fossil energy, as saying: “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.”
The constructions aren’t new. When he signed similar orders early this month, Energy Secretary Rick Perry told reporters in Brussels that “the United States is again delivering a form of freedom to the European continent,” adding: “And rather than in the form of young American soldiers, it’s in the form of liquefied natural gas.”
According to Energy News Bulletin, a trade journal, a reporter asked Perry whether he thought “freedom gas” was an appropriate name for liquefied natural gas. “Yes, I think you may be correct in your observation,” he replied.

Liquefied natural gas is a big deal right now. The United States and China have been in a trade war ever since President Donald Trump raised import tariffs on $200 billion of Chinese imports last year, to which the Chinese government responded by raising tariffs on $60 billion in U.S. goods.

One of the casualties of the trade war is the liquefied natural gas industry, on which China — the world’s second-biggest importer of the fuel — raised tariffs by 25 percent.
U.S. jobs are at stake, and in a tradition stretching back more than a century, the United States is deploying heavy ammunition: the dictionary. “Freedom gas” and “molecules of U.S. freedom” join a long history of patriotic renaming of goods and products associated with countries with which the United States isn’t on particularly good terms with.
The most famous example is probably the House cafeteria’s renaming of french fries as “freedom fries” in 2003, when the French government opposed the U.S.-led war in Iraq.

Something a lot of folks have missed about natural gas, in the last few years, following the opening of new liquified natural gas export facilities around the US, gas has become an international commodity – something that was not true in past decades.
As US consumers compete more and more with emerging nations around the world, where gas prices are often higher – Americans could see gas prices rise and fall in the way gasoline prices traditionally have – eroding gas competitive position in competing with renewables, which offer stable pricing.
Below, current prices for new generation show wind as the cheapest, gas, at the bottom, still competitive, but solar coming up fast on the outside.

For that and other reasons, Solar energy is rapidly gaining ground.


Solar will soon be able to out-compete gas-fired plants around the world on a levelized cost basis*. That doesn’t mean it will be any easier to make a living in the solar business.
“By 2023, we think solar’s going to be cheaper than gas almost everywhere around the world,” Tom Heggarty, senior solar analyst for Wood Mackenzie Power & Renewables, said Tuesday at GTM Solar Summit in Phoenix.
New combined-cycle gas plants remain competitive with new utility solar in many big markets today, from China to the U.K. to South Korea. But that will no longer be the case by the early 2020s, as equipment costs continue to fall and competitive auctions proliferate, Heggarty said.

Yet for all that signifies, the news has not all been good for the global solar market recently.

The annual market failed to crack the 100-gigawatt mark in 2018 as it was expected to do, due chiefly to a policy-induced slowdown in China.
India, too, put up weaker-than-expected growth last year as 14 gigawatts of auctions were canceled or postponed, or awarded projects were annulled.
2018 was the first year without a record-low price for a solar power-purchase agreement, following a long string of records in markets as diverse as South Africa, the U.S., Morocco and Saudi Arabia.

But setbacks in any one market — even China — are becoming less important as the industry takes root around the world. China accounted for 35 percent of global solar installations through 2018, but that share will fall to 27 percent in the 2019 to 2024 period, WoodMac predicts.


15 Responses to “Freedom Fries to Freedom Gas”

  1. ubrew12 Says:

    Freedom fries are not free. But, if you eat enough fries, freedom gas is.

  2. Graham Jeffery Says:

    Reminds me of when the apologists were calling Canadian Tar Sands oil “Ethical Oil” as its production would not finance a morally dubious nation like Saudi Arabia, Venezuela, Nigeria or Libya.

    As for swapping “freedom” for “French” consistently, my favorite was to call the dogs “Freedom Poodles”.

  3. mboli Says:

    The main point is that natural gas production, processing, and transport is very leaky. And methane is a serious greenhouse gas.

    When Congress voted to overturn some regulations on methane leakage, I wrote to my Rep that he had supported the Methane Liberation Front. “Free the Methane!” I wrote, sarcastically.

    And now the Energy Dept. is celebrating another addition to the greenhouse gas-spewing natural gas infrastructure by calling it “freedom gas.”

    I thought “liberate the methane” was pretty funny, a couple of years ago. Not so much now.

  4. John Kane Says:

    I wonder if those people in Washington have even an inkling of how ridiculous “freedom gas” makes them sound to the rest of the world?

  5. doldrom Says:

    “rather than in the form of young American soldiers, it’s in the form of liquefied natural gas”

    Up until now, it seems that forced American LNG exports to Europe have been preceded by American troops stationed on the border of Russia to engage in exercises within artillery range of Russian territory. Seems like rather a lot of force instead of freedom. The USA seems ready to risk confrontation between nuclear powers to sell a paltry amount of gas. Not to mention what globalization might do with the pricing of gas in the American market.

    • rhymeswithgoalie Says:

      Ukraine et al’s dependence on Russian gas pipelines has been an awkward situation undermining the premise of Europe’s ethical and economic superiority to Russia. Could this make any difference?

      • John Kane Says:

        No because the likelihood of natural gas customers such as Germany buying over-priced LNG from an unreliable supplier such as the the USA is, well let’s say, not great.

        Trump’s tariffs and sanctions routine—with Mexico the latest victim—makes Russia appear to be a much more reliable supplier.

  6. ubrew12 Says:

    Keep in mind: the SAME people who want natural gas to be relabeled ‘freedom gas’, want John McCain’s name off of any Navy vehicle within sight of General Bone Spurs.

    • dumboldguy Says:

      General? He may be a “self-promoter”, but he is never going to rise above his present rank of draft dodger. If we must get “military”, he should be referred to as Private Bone Spurs, even though that’s an insult to the real ones.

      • rhymeswithgoalie Says:

        I prefer Tammy Duckworth’s “Cadet Bone Spurs”. He would have never made private.

  7. rsmurf Says:

    I still cannot figure out if these guys KNOW that trying to save our planet for human life is past the point where we can save it, or they are just some dumbass greedy pieces of crap? Either one is horrific.

  8. jfon Says:

    ‘Solar will soon be able to out-compete gas-fired plants around the world on a levelized cost basis’. That’s for utility scale solar – rooftop residential solar is listed as four to six times more expensive. And it’s assuming you want the power before sundown. At that point , utility scale can’t compete even with peaking open-cycle gas plants, which are three times as expensive as closed cycle gas turbines. Closed cycle gas turbines are basically jet engines, but they run their exhaust through a steam generator, and get nearly half as much power again, for the same emissions, from a second, steam turbine. It takes them hours to heat up their boilers, though, so if solar or wind power drops precipitately, especially in the evening when demand is ramping up, the CCGTs can’t increase power fast enough – unless they’ve been burning gas all the time on standby.
    The Lazard figures don’t bother costing how much batteries to power a whole grid would cost. This piece from Bloomberg New Energy Finance – who make a living by lending to renewable hopefuls – claim batteries have dropped to 187$/MWh. If you add that on, solar doesn’t look like such a bargain.

  9. rsmurf Says:

    These assholes really are smug.

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