This article dated October 16, 2018 is part of a collaboration between the Center for Public Integrity, The Texas Tribune, The Associated Press and Newsy. It is in 2 parts. Excerpts of part 2 are below with my Bolds.
How Washington unleashed fossil-fuel exports and sold out on climate
WASHINGTON — Energy Secretary Rick Perry’s keynote speech at the World Gas Conference in June opened with a marching band and ended with an exhibition by the Harlem Globetrotters. It was a spectacle befitting the industry symposium, which kicked off with a reception featuring a violinist perched on a pedestal in a 20-foot-long dress and trumpeters bearing ExxonMobil and ConocoPhillips banners on their instruments.
“We’re sharing our energy bounty with the world,” Perry gushed from a stage at the Washington Convention Center. “I wish I could tell you the entire world is on board. There is still this stubborn opposition to natural gas and other fossil fuels.”
Long undervalued, natural gas was once burned off indiscriminately as an unwanted by-product of oil drilling. But the fuel’s fortunes have changed. Cooled to minus 162 degrees Celsius, natural gas condenses into a liquid marketed as a clean alternative to coal. In just three years, the U.S. has emerged as a top producer of liquefied natural gas, or LNG, selling shiploads of the commodity to countries such as China, which are seeking low-carbon energy sources to combat climate change.
Natural gas, it turns out, isn’t so great for the climate, but that hasn’t stopped America from sending its fossil fuels abroad. Since Donald Trump took office in 2017, exports of LNG and crude oil have surged, rivalling the likes of Saudi Arabia and Russia. To achieve what it calls “energy dominance,” the Trump administration has taken its cues from an unlikely source: its predecessor.
When Perry hawked LNG and coal to India in April, he was advancing a dialogue the Department of Energy began under Barack Obama in 2014. That same month, Vice President Mike Pence pledged to work with the Japanese government to bring LNG to Asia — building on a partnership that began in 2013. Leaked administration plans for a “central institution” to promote “clean and advanced fossil fuels” abroad could combine several Obama-era initiatives.
Compared to Trump, Obama is regarded as an environmental champion. But history paints a more complicated picture. As the young senator promised “change we can believe in” during the 2008 presidential campaign, change was also sweeping American oilfields. Advances in hydraulic fracturing, or fracking — a way of recovering oil and gas from tight rock called shale — created a glut. Industry responded by pitching fossil-fuel exports as a “win-win” that would benefit consumers and enhance American power. Helping to deliver the message was a coalition of White House advisers: academics such as Columbia University’s Jason Bordoff, energy gurus such as Daniel Yergin, and national-security experts such as John Deutch — all with links to firms profiting from the boom.
Leading the charge within government was then-Energy Secretary Ernest Moniz, a nuclear physicist with longstanding ties to the oil and gas industry and an enthusiastic proponent of natural gas. Under his watch, the Energy Department moved swiftly to foster LNG exports in 2013 before shifting its focus to decades-old restrictions on the export of crude oil. Days after the Paris climate agreement was reached in 2015, Obama signed a budget bill to keep the federal government running; slipped inside was a provision allowing crude oil to be sold freely for the first time since 1975. The move was praised by an alliance of 16 companies, most of which are now capitalizing on an export-driven boom in the Permian Basin of West Texas and south-eastern New Mexico. By 2016, a new global market connected U.S. drilling rigs with refineries in China and LNG terminals in the United Kingdom.
What’s good for corporate profits, however, may not be good for the planet. A growing body of research suggests natural gas isn’t the climate panacea many promised it would be, with mounting concerns over its main component: methane, a greenhouse gas roughly 86 times more potent in the short term than carbon dioxide. In the race for energy supremacy, the U.S. has become not only the world’s largest natural-gas producer but also a top exporter of oil — a fuel that remains among the most harmful for the climate and public health. As energy exports climb, so too does global consumption of fossil fuels, drawing billions in infrastructure investment that — some argue — tilts the world away from renewable sources of energy such as wind and solar.
Read more of Part 2 and Part 1 of this series As oil and gas exports surge, West Texas becomes the world’s ‘extraction colony’
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