Energy Secretary Rick Perry said the Trump administration would “absolutely” push to export liquefied natural gas (LNG) and coal abroad while touring an advanced coal-fired power plant Thursday in West Virginia.
“If you make it in America and sell it to the rest of the world, I don’t care if its cotton, coal, gas or whatever,” Perry told a power plant employee Thursday.
Perry was touring the Longview Power Plant near Morgantown, W.V., which is arguably the most efficient coal plant in the country. Perry toured the $2.2 billion dollar coal power plant to see how federal energy research into highly efficient clean coal projects worked.
Longview did not receive any direct federal money, but the government has previously invested in clean coal technology and promises to do more research in the future.
West Virginia’s Sens. Joe Manchin, a Democrat, and Shelley Moore Capito, a Republican, toured the plant with Perry and West Virginia Republican Rep. David McKinley.
Perry spoke to power plant workers when one asked if the Trump administration believed exporting energy to other countries increased energy security.
The employee was likely referring to Russian use of its control over the energy supply of Eastern European countries as a political tool. Russia interrupted natural gas supplies at least three times since 2006 to put political pressure on Eastern European countries, like Ukraine, Poland and the Baltic states.
About half of Europe’s imported natural gas comes from Russia. This dependence prevented many the U.S.’s European allies from responding more forcefully to Russian actions in Syria and Ukraine. The rise of America as a major exporter of natural gas is an enormous change in way those countries gets their electricity and heat.
Increasing U.S. energy exports reduces Europe’s dependence Russian gas by forcing it to compete directly against U.S. companies. Increased competition for natural gas in the world market has already reduced Russia’s bargaining power and export revenue.
The Trump administration has helped fast-track permits to export energy to Europe, where about half the continent’s natural gas supply comes from state-owned Russian companies. Foreign policy experts see U.S. gas exports as a way to undermine Russia’s energy dominance in the region.
Perry has previously said that the Trump administration’s goal is to help make the U.S. a “dominant” energy force in the world by creating the infrastructure necessary to produce and export more power.
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