Another Energy Department official, Mark Menezes, said expanding the Texas facility’s export capacity “is critical to spreading freedom gas throughout the world.”
Some people went on Twitter to make fun of the colorful language, but environmentalists opposed to wider use of gas said it was no laughing matter.
“This is an absurd attempt to rebrand natural gas, and it shouldn’t fool anyone,” said Rachel Cleetus, a climate expert at the Union of Concerned Scientists. She said the Trump administration is exporting reliance on natural gas instead of promoting renewables such as solar and wind energy.
“Natural gas is still a fossil fuel,” she said. “What the world desperately needs is freedom from runaway climate change.”
The dust-up highlighted a more fundamental debate about natural gas.
Gas supporters note that as more power plants burned natural gas and many coal-fired plants were retired, U.S. emissions of greenhouse gases fell for many years. But that trend has slowed, and environmentalists prefer renewables over natural gas — a byproduct of which is methane, a powerful heat-trapping chemical linked to climate change.