Sorry, But I Refuse to Believe That “Freedom Molecules” Is a Real ThingPhoto by Christopher Gregory/Getty Politics Features Freedom Molecules
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Late yesterday afternoon, after a long day of work, my colleague Jake Weindling sent me a tweet from The Guardian:
US energy department rebrands fossil fuels as ‘molecules of freedom’ https://t.co/TcdrLJJJWl
— Guardian US (@GuardianUS) May 29, 2019
Now, I’m well aware that The Guardian isn’t The Onion, and is, in fact, a reputable source of journalism. I’m also aware that if this were an Onion article, it would be a bad one, because the joke is predictable and lame. Which means after examining the tweet, the universe was pushing me to to conclude that it was, infuriatingly, legitimate. As Jake wrote, on g-chat, “this is somehow not a hoax.”
But I didn’t look long. I didn’t believe it. I couldn’t believe it. I closed the tab, and immediately forgot about “molecules of freedom” for the sake of my own sanity.
Then, today, by accident, I saw it again. I sighed a deep, weary sigh, and I Googled. I landed on the BBC:
US energy officials appeared to rebrand natural gas produced in the country as “freedom gas”, in a statement announcing an increase in exports.
The US Department of Energy said the expansion of a Texas facility meant more “molecules of US freedom” could be produced and exported worldwide.
The facility, based in Quintana, produces liquified natural gas (LNG).
I landed on ABC News:
In a press release touting exports of natural gas, the Department of Energy referred to the fossil fuel as “molecules of U.S. freedom.”
The statement, dated May 28, issued from the Tenth Clean Energy Ministerial in Vancouver, British Columbia, was touting a natural gas facility on Quintana Island 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,” said Under Secretary of Energy Mark Menezes. “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.”
Like The Guardian, the BBC and ABC News are not satirical websites. They would not, for some strange reason, run a fake story because they thought it was funny. By all indications, it looked like I would have to accept the uncomfortable truth: Someone in the Trump administration not only had the idea to call natural gas “freedom gas,” and to call the harmful emissions from this fossil fuel “molecules of freedom,” but this person wasn’t immediately thrown from a high building. Instead, the idea was approved, and executed, and now we live in a world where it’s an actual…thing.
And yet, I do not accept it. There’s so much I can accept, and indeed so much that I have had to accept. I have to accept that our president is Donald Trump. I have to accept that the Democratic party in Washington is largely incompetent. I have to accept some very dark truths, like the fact that it was government policy for a time to separate young children from their parents and keep them in cages. I have to accept the destabilizing reality of American political life in 2019, which frequently touches on absurdity, comedy, and tragedy, but never seems to settle for a moment in the realms of justice or normalcy or hope.
Hell, there was a time years ago when I had to accept that large swaths of our country were calling french fries “freedom fries,” and while I found that vapid and pointless, at least (I guess?) it was based in national pride and was in response to a truly horrifying act of terror, and thus, in all its embarrassing simplicity, nevertheless represented a kind of patriotic solidarity that despite being grossly misguided maybe kinda sorta came from a good place.
But this? Invoking that same “freedom” formulation as propaganda for Big Energy, at a time when the Trump administration is doing everything in its power to roll back environmental protections and actively trying to hide the effects of climate change? Sorry, but there’s something in me that can’t accept this combination of stupidity, cruelty, and cynicism—which treats the American people like a sub-moronic species—all in the service of fracking.
It’s too much. It’s something from a bad movie. We all have a breaking point, and I’ve reached mine. As far as I’m concerned, this is not real. Goodbye.