Replace peat with LNG, says senior Trump energy official

June 25th, 2019

Ireland should replace peat with US Liquified Natural Gas (LNG) in its fuel transition, a senior Trump energy official has said. 

The US under-secretary for Energy Mark Menezes made the remark at a media brifing at Dublin Castle yesterday while attending the International Energy Agency’s Global Conference on Energy Efficiency. 

“You have peat that you continue to use for electricity generation. That’s not good for the environment,” Mr Menezes said. 

“I would suggest look to bring in US LNG to replace your peat, and if you want to minimize your coal use, that is a quick way right there,” he added. 

Mr Menezes controversially referred to natural gas as “freedom gas”, in a news release from the Department of Energy last month in reference to the Freeport LNG terminal off the Texan coast. 

“Increasing export capacity from the Freeport LNG project is critical to spreading freedom gas throughout the world by giving America’s allies a diverse and affordable source of clean energy,” he said in the release. 

US LNG, Mr Menezes also noted on Monday, is “a great opportunity” that would allow for continued growth “in prosperity.” 

Natural gas pipeline USA Photo: Bilfinger

In response to a question on Oil Change International’s recent report on the inviability of gas as a “bridge fuel”, Mr Menezes said that in increasing the use of renewable energy, “natural gas makes perfect sense”, adding that the “combined cycle units are very efficient.” 

The report issued last month found gas to be a dirty, expensive and unnecessary fuel, one that would serve as a “bridge to climate disaster.”

The authors found that the idea of gas as a bridge fuel is founded on the false assertion that natural gas is the only affordable fuel that can replace coal on a large scale in the short to medium term. 

Mr Menezes also referred to potential operations such as the Shannon LNG terminal off the coast of Kerry as another “a great opportunity” as it provides “another option to bring in cleaner-burning fuel sources to help move away from your higher-emitting sources.” 

The €500 million gas terminal has been on hiatus for the past decade since planning permission was first granted in March 2008. 

Friends of the Irish Environment brought forward a case against the terminal over An Bord Pleanala’s decision to extend the original 10-year planning permission, and most recently, the case was referred to Europe by the High Court in February. 

When asked about the repercussions if the Climate Emergency Measures Bill was to become law, Mr Menezes observed that “it would just make the people of Ireland dependent even more on other countries for their energy supply”.

If passed, the Bill would amend the Petroleum and Other Minerals Development Act to limit the issuing of new licences for the exploration of fossil fuels. 

The Bill was slated to proceed to Committee Stage earlier this month but has stalled following a letter sent by Minister for Natural Resources Sean Canney to Bill author to Brid Smith TD that stated the Bill now requires a money message. 

A money message is essentially a State recommendation signed by the Taoiseach approvin of legislation that will cost the State money as per Article 17.2 of the Constitution. Unless approval is received, the Bill will not progress to Committee Stage. 

About the Author

Kayle Crosson

Kayle is a multimedia journalist focused on climate and environmental issues and contributes to The Irish Times and The Green News.

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