In a display of full-on, Ministry of Truth-level insanity, the Trump administration appears to be attempting to rebrand its energy exports as “freedom gas.” It sounds like satire, but you couldn’t even make this up.
In a real press release, the US undersecretary of energy Mark Menezes says that increasing export capacity from the Freeport liquefied natural gas (LNG) terminal off the coast of Texas is “critical to spreading freedom gas throughout the world.”
The potential for fart jokes here is endless, but let’s not even go there.
Now, if you thought “freedom gas” was the very worst phrase ever concocted by government propagandists, hold onto your hats for the next one. The release also quotes assistant secretary for fossil energy Steven Winberg, who waxes lyrical about these uniquely American “molecules of freedom” for export.
Wait a second. Isn’t government propaganda supposed to be at least mildly sophisticated? At least enough so that it doesn’t instantly produce a cacophony of incredulous laughter? “Freedom gas” has to be the best indication yet that the American government thinks its citizens are monumentally stupid.
What could be the opposite of freedom gas? Oppression gas? Oh that’s right, Russian gas. Nah, it’s probably just a coincidence that this whole rebrand attempt has happened alongside US efforts to convince European countries to ditch cheaper Russian gas and opt for its more expensive LNG. Adopt your best caveman voice and say it with me: Russian gas bad, American gas good.
It’s so completely nuts that it almost sounds like a prank; like the person who hit ‘send’ on this release added those humiliating expressions out of sheer mischievousness. Sadly, that is not what happened. It seems the emergence of “freedom gas” can be traced back a few weeks, to when US energy secretary Rick Perry briefed press in Brussels, encouraging diversification away from terribly oppressed and unfree Russian gas.
Seventy-five years after “liberating Europe from Nazi Germany,” the US is “again delivering a form of freedom to the European continent” and “rather than in the form of young American soldiers, it’s in the form of liquefied natural gas,” Perry opined. Asked by a EURACTV reporter if “freedom gas” was how it should be described, Perry said: “I think you may be correct in your observation.”
Leaving aside his inaccurate historical comparison (the Soviet Union played a far larger role in defeating Nazi Germany than the US did), Perry obviously took a shine to the phrase and decided it was good enough to employ as an official term.
Even if US LNG was the cleanest, most environmentally-friendly, happiness-producing substance known to man, calling it “freedom gas” would still sound totally ridiculous. The fact that so much of it comes from the massively environmentally destructive practice of fracking –banned in multiple states and countries– just makes it pure garbage propaganda.
Indeed, the negative impacts of “freedom gas” production are well-documented. There’s the contaminated water supplies, the seismic activity and the potential impacts on the climate – some experts believe fracking could be even worse for the environment than coal.
Ah yes, freedom gas is so free that, in 2013, two kids aged seven and 10 years old, were given what was supposed to be a lifelong ban on ever even talking about fracking, after their parents reached a settlement with an energy company, claiming its activity had destroyed their 10-acre farm in Pennsylvania and caused headaches and nosebleeds.
Asked if the gag order applied to the whole family, including the children, an attorney initially said it did and they would “certainly enforce it” (although the company later said that would not be the case). So it’s freedom gas in Europe, but if you live near a fracking plant in the US, you’d better watch out for your health – and don’t even think about complaining. Who needs clean air and uncontaminated water when you can have patriotic slogans?
We’ve had freedom fries. Now we’ve got freedom gas. US government officials are really only one step away from officially renaming them “freedom bombs.” After that, they could perhaps try to rebrand their violent regime-change operations around the world as “freedom coups.” The punitive economic measures imposed in the run-up to them could become “freedom sanctions” – and resulting fatalities might seem more palatable if we start calling them “freedom deaths.”
Over to you, CNN.
By Danielle Ryan