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 gains new watchdog The Hill's Morning Report - Gillibrand drops out as number of debaters shrinks BLM issues final plan for reduced Utah monument 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 TrumpAlaska Republican Party cancels 2020 primary Ukrainian official denies Trump pressured president Trump goes after New York Times, Washington Post: 'They have gone totally CRAZY!!!!' 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 CheneyOvernight Defense: Trump says he has 'many options' on Iran | Hostage negotiator chosen for national security adviser | Senate Dems block funding bill | Documents show Pentagon spent at least 4K at Trump's Scotland resort Liz Cheney calls for 'proportional military response' against Iran Liz Cheney says world is more stable, 'safer' under Trump MORE (R-Wyo.) told AP she’s talked about the military base idea with Zinke and Energy Secretary Rick PerryJames (Rick) Richard PerryGas prices could rise 15 to 30 cents following Saudi attack Trump envoy presses Saudi Arabia to allow nuclear inspections Perry confident energy market 'will rebound positively' after Saudi oil attack 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 DainesConservatives offer stark warning to Trump, GOP on background checks The 23 Republicans who opposed Trump-backed budget deal 5 takeaways from combative Democratic debate MORE (R-Mont.) also told the AP that using the bases is a possible strategy for exports.