Trump administration could use military bases to export coal, gas

Trump administration could use military bases to export coal, gas
© Greg Nash

The Trump administration is considering using military bases to accommodate export facilities for coal or natural gas, Interior Secretary Ryan ZinkeRyan Keith ZinkeOvernight Energy: Major California utility PG&E filing for bankruptcy after wildfires | Zinke hired at investment firm | Barclays to avoid most Arctic drilling financing Zinke takes job at investment firm Trump taps Commerce watchdog to be new Interior inspector general MORE has told The Associated Press.

Zinke said the strategy is being considered as a way to thwart opposition by California, Oregon and Washington leaders to allowing export terminals in their states to sell coal or gas to Asia.

“I respect the state of Washington and Oregon and California,” Zinke told AP. “But also, it’s in our interest for national security and our allies to make sure that they have access to affordable energy commodities.”

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Zinke said that may involve using “some of our naval facilities, some of our federal facilities on the West Coast.”

In his AP interview, Zinke only mentioned one possible facility for natural gas exports: the Adak Naval Air Facility in Alaska’s Aleutian Islands, which closed in 1997.

Exports are a key piece of President TrumpDonald John TrumpPentagon update to missile defense doctrine will explore space-base technologies, lasers to counter threats Giuliani: 'I never said there was no collusion' between the Trump campaign and Russia Former congressmen, RNC members appointed to Trump administration roles MORE’s agenda for “energy dominance,” which includes the United States becoming a world power in energy markets.

Gas exports have grown dramatically in recent years along with the large increase in production, though only two large-scale export facilities are currently operating, and neither is on the West Coast. Coal exports have held relatively steady in recent years as domestic demand for the fuel has dropped.

It is not the only move the administration is reportedly making to use the military to help its energy agenda. They are also working on a plan to keep uneconomical coal and nuclear power plants open, citing national security as the justification.

Interior spokeswoman Faith Vander Voort said Zinke is trying to keep options open for ways to boost exports.

“The president and secretary are committed to the men and women of coal country, and it should come as no surprise that Secretary Zinke has put a number of options on the table to revitalize these communities and achieve American Energy Dominance,” she said in a statement.

Rep. Liz CheneyElizabeth (Liz) Lynn CheneyDem leaders avert censure vote against Steve King If Republicans rebuked Steve King, they must challenge Donald Trump White House's Sanders: King white supremacist comments 'abhorrent' MORE (R-Wyo.) told AP she’s talked about the military base idea with Zinke and Energy Secretary Rick PerryJames (Rick) Richard PerryOvernight Energy: Wheeler weathers climate criticism at confirmation hearing | Dems want Interior to stop drilling work during shutdown | 2018 was hottest year for oceans Pompeo in Iraq for unannounced visit GOP commissioner on federal energy panel dies MORE.

“That might be, for example, retired military facilities or other places where we would be able to use those for exports — frankly, to get around some of the unreasonable obstacles that have been thrown up,” she said.

Sen. Steve DainesSteven (Steve) David DainesOvernight Health Care: Dem chair plans hearing on Medicare for all | Senate GOP talks drug prices with Trump health chief | PhRMA CEO hopeful Trump reverses course on controversial pricing proposal On The Money: Shutdown Day 26 | Pelosi calls on Trump to delay State of the Union | Cites 'security concerns' | DHS chief says they can handle security | Waters lays out agenda | Senate rejects effort to block Trump on Russia sanctions Senate rejects effort to block Trump on Russia sanctions MORE (R-Mont.) also told the AP that using the bases is a possible strategy for exports.