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 ZinkeInternational hunting council disbands amid litigation Europe deepens energy dependence on Russia Overnight Energy: House Science Committee hits EPA with subpoenas | California sues EPA over Trump revoking emissions waiver | Interior disbands board that floated privatization at national parks 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 TrumpTrump passes Pence a dangerous buck Overnight Health Care — Presented by American Health Care Association — Trump taps Pence to lead coronavirus response | Trump accuses Pelosi of trying to create panic | CDC confirms case of 'unknown' origin | Schumer wants .5 billion in emergency funds Trump nods at reputation as germaphobe during coronavirus briefing: 'I try to bail out as much as possible' after sneezes 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 CheneyThis week: House to vote on legislation to make lynching a federal hate crime Overnight Defense: GOP lawmaker takes unannounced trip to Syria | Taliban leader pens New York Times op-ed on peace talks | Cheney blasts paper for publishing op-ed Liz Cheney blasts NYT for publishing op-ed by Taliban leader MORE (R-Wyo.) told AP she’s talked about the military base idea with Zinke and Energy Secretary Rick PerryRick PerryTop National Security Council aide moved to Energy Department role Overnight Energy: Green groups to sue over Trump rollback of Obama water rules | GOP climate plan faces pushback from right | Bezos launches B climate initiative Rick Perry to rejoin dental insurance company as chief strategy officer 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 DainesAs many as eight GOP senators expected to vote to curb Trump's power to attack Iran Senate set for closing arguments on impeachment Schiff sparks blowback with head on a 'pike' line MORE (R-Mont.) also told the AP that using the bases is a possible strategy for exports.