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 ZinkePuerto Rican police fire tear gas at crowds protesting governor Overnight Energy: Trump officials gut DC staff for public lands agency to move West | Democrats slam EPA over scientific boards | Deepwater Horizon most litigated environmental issue of decade Trump officials gut DC staff as public lands agency preps to move out West 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 TrumpCould Donald Trump and Boris Johnson be this generation's Reagan-Thatcher? Merkel backs Democratic congresswomen over Trump How China's currency manipulation cheats America on trade 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 CheneyLiz Cheney calls Ayanna Pressley's comments at Netroots Nation 'racist' Lawmakers introduce bill to block U.S. companies from doing business with Huawei Cheney blasts Ocasio-Cortez over DHS dissolution MORE (R-Wyo.) told AP she’s talked about the military base idea with Zinke and Energy Secretary Rick PerryJames (Rick) Richard PerryHow to reduce Europe's dependence on Russian energy Senior Trump administration official to leave post next week Overnight Energy: Trump doesn't mention climate change in speech touting environmental policies | Green groups fight EPA's new FOIA rule | Trump emissions rollback hit with legal challenge 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 DainesTwo GOP lawmakers back Trump's comments on Democratic lawmakers: 'I'll pay for their tickets out of this country' Former Navy officer, teacher enters race to unseat GOP senator in Montana Democratic senators want candidates to take Swalwell's hint and drop out MORE (R-Mont.) also told the AP that using the bases is a possible strategy for exports.