The United States has done some rebranding of its natural resources. A press release from the United States Department of Energy (DoE) has named the country's natural gas: ‘Freedom gas’.
The statement was announcing the DoE’s increase of gas exports produced by a Freeport LNG terminal off the coast of 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,” Mark W Menezes, the US undersecretary of energy, said.
The weird wordplay went even further with Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy Steven Winberg calling the product ‘molecules of US freedom’:
“With the US 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 US freedom to be exported to the world,” he stated.
Fracking helps production boom
Production of natural gas in the United States has increased recently due to the adoption of hydraulic fracturing, or “fracking” practices. This has especially been embraced in Texas. According to the US Energy Information Administration, US domestic natural gas production hit an all-time record-high last year.
The United States has pitched its natural gas to Europe as a way for them to reduce their reliance on Middle Eastern oil and as a way to strengthen U.S-Europe alliances.
“We’re exporting to our allies in Europe the opportunity to truly have a choice of where do you buy your energy from. That’s freedom. And that kind of freedom is priceless,” Energy Secretary and former Texas Governor Rick Perry said in an interview with Fox Business last year, reported The Hill.
Cleaner but not clean
Natural gas is cleaner than burning oil or coal for energy production, but it is far from a green solution for long-term energy needs. Fracking is a highly damaging process that has been proven to cause significant long-term damage to nearby fragile environments.
The process also requires huge amounts of water. According to a report from consultancy firm BSR, ‘water use for natural gas production from fracking typically runs from 2.3 to 5.6 million gallons of freshwater per well (based on one-time use), with more water needed for “refracturing” or for drilling and stimulating larger wells.
Additionally, improper well construction can lead to leaching of the chemicals used in fracking and methane into the groundwater.
Their report goes on to highlight how unregulated the use of chemicals is in the fracking process and how long-term health effects from the use of chemicals in natural gas extraction are still relatively unknown.