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The “freedom gas” phrase coined by a U.S. Under Secretary of Energy earlier this year, has won the award for worst phrase from the Australian Plain English Foundation.
“When a simple product like natural gas starts being named through partisan politics, we are entering dangerous terrain,” the Australian Plain English Foundation’s Executive Director, Dr Neil James, said commenting on the award. “Why can’t natural gas just remain natural gas?”
The simple answer to this would be that a commodity as strategic as natural gas will always be wrapped in politics and hence impossible to just remain natural gas.
The phrase appeared in a May 2019 press release from the U.S. Department of Energy announcing its approval for additional export capacity at the Freeport LNG facility in 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. 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,” was the full statement by Under Secretary Mark W. Menezes.
The other linguistic jewel mentioned in the Australian foundation’s awards was “molecules of U.S. freedom”, which also appeared in the same press release but was the brainchild of another official, Assistant Secretary for Fossil Energy Steven Winberg.
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Winberg said “Approval of additional LNG exports from Freeport LNG furthers this Administration’s commitment to promoting American energy, American jobs, and the American economy. Further, increased supplies of U.S. natural gas on the world market are critical to advancing clean energy and the energy security of our allies around the globe. 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.”
While the political overtones of the DoE’s message are nothing unusual for any large gas exporter, although they are rarely that poetic, the clean energy reputation of natural gas is being increasingly challenged. Just recently, a couple of studies challenged the perception of gas as a clean fuel citing an actual increase in global emissions resulting from the substantial increase in gas production and use for power generation.
By Irina Slav for Oilprice.com
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Irina is a writer for Oilprice.com with over a decade of experience writing on the oil and gas industry.