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 ZinkeInterior reverses decision at heart of Zinke criminal investigation Acting Interior chief moves to protect access to public lands Overnight Energy: Judge halts drilling on Wyoming public lands over climate change | Dems demand details on Interior's offshore drilling plans | Trump mocks wind power 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 TrumpSenate GOP budget ignores Trump, cuts defense Trump says he'll nominate Stephen Moore to Fed White House: ISIS territory in Syria has been 100 percent eliminated 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 CheneyGOP lawmakers: House leaders already jockeying for leadership contests Pentagon: Trump's 'cost plus 50' plan hasn't been discussed with Europe Liz Cheney: Dems are 'enabling anti-Semitism' MORE (R-Wyo.) told AP she’s talked about the military base idea with Zinke and Energy Secretary Rick PerryJames (Rick) Richard PerryDemocrats have debate delusion that leaves them wildly outfoxed Say no to NOPEC to maintain a stable oil market California governor plays down Trump feud 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 DainesJOBS for Success Act would recognize that all people have potential Republicans up for reelection fear daylight with Trump Overnight Defense: Senate breaks with Trump on Yemen war | Shanahan hit with ethics complaint over Boeing ties | Pentagon rolls out order to implement transgender ban | Dem chair throws cold water on Space Force budget MORE (R-Mont.) also told the AP that using the bases is a possible strategy for exports.