A runaway train carrying North Dakota crude oil derailed and exploded in the center of Lac-Megantic, Quebec, killing 47 people in July 2013, highlighting a dangerous trend in North America.

“It would only take 22 tank cars to hold the equivalent energy of the Hiroshima bomb,” Jordan Luebkemann, a lawyer for Earth Justice.

Florida Bulldog is an investigative news site. In September, they wrote on how a private equity firm forgave an enormous debt of Donald Trump in exchange for federal permits to transport dangerous liquified natural gas in rail cars up the heavily populated megalopolis of Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach counties.

Fortress energy has its filthy fingers in Puerto Rico as well. 

A multi-billion dollar private equity firm whose subsidiary was awarded two special permits by the Trump Administration to haul hazardous liquified natural gas (LNG), including by rail along Florida’s east coast, apparently forgave more than $100 million in debt owed by President Trump.

New York State Attorney General Letitia James filed a petition last month in the New York Supreme Court seeking to compel the Trump Organization to produce documents pertaining to a $130-million loan to Trump from Fortress Credit, part of the $45.5 billion Fortress Investment Group. The AG seeks to determine if the president evaded paying capital gains taxes on a large portion of the 2005 loan that the Attorney General says it has learned was “forgiven.” Trump and his staff have not cooperated in obtaining the loan documentation, the petition said.

Another Fortress subsidiary, publicly-traded New Fortress Energy (NASDAQ: NFE), was the beneficiary of two special permits to transport LNG by rail since Trump took office. The permits facilitate Fortress projects costing hundreds of millions of dollars.

The use of rail is an emerging alternative to natural-gas pipelines. In April 2019, President Trump issued an executive order directing the Secretary of Transportation to permit LNG shipment in rail tank cars throughout the country. The order took effect three weeks ago on Aug. 24.

Corridor routes through heavily populated areas such as South Florida are raising safety concerns. LNG is combustible natural gas that has been chilled to a temperature of minus 260 degrees F, which condenses into a liquid allowing more gas to be shipped per load. An uncontrolled release, however, could cause a fire or explosion.

The Trump Administration’s first special permit, in 2017, went to Doral’s Energy Transport Solutions LLC, owned by New Fortress Energy. The permit allows Florida East Coast Railway, previously owned by Fortress, to ship LNG in special cryogenic rail cars from its liquefaction plant in Hialeah to ports between Jacksonville and Miami. To date, most shipments have traveled 19 miles from the Hialeah plant to Port Everglades.

A runaway train carrying North Dakota crude oil derailed and exploded in the center of Lac-Megantic, Quebec, killing 47 people in July 2013, highlighting a dangerous trend in North America.
A runaway train carrying North Dakota crude oil derailed and exploded in the center of Lac-Megantic, Quebec, killing 47 people in July 2013, highlighting a dangerous trend in North America. 

“If I lived in South Florida near the Florida East Coast Railway corridor, I would move now.” Ron Kaminkow, of Reno, Nev., general secretary for Railroad Workers United.

A separate post from Florida Bulldog provides background on Fortress.

ETS is a logistics subsidiary of New Fortress Energy, which is owned by Fortress Investment Group, a hedge fund. Fortress also owned FEC, the parent company of All Aboard Florida/Brightline until it was sold to Virgin Trains USA.

Wesley Edens founded New Fortress Energy in 2014 and has led an effort to grow the company into a global, fully integrated energy infrastructure company with LNG production facilities and terminals operating across North America and the Caribbean, according to the company’s website.

Bote's South Florida Train Chaser's Guide

LNG, which is predominately made up of methane – a greenhouse gas – was first produced in the United States in 1941. Although the conversion of natural gas to LNG was developed more than a century earlier, the technology to mass produce the gas was lacking.

A plant in Cleveland closed three years later when a tank ruptured and spilled thousands of gallons of LNG into nearby neighborhoods, killing 130 people. That incident stifled LNG production for 15 years until technology caught up to provide safer storage materials.


Havens did not respond to a Florida Bulldog request for an interview. He has testified at a number of federal hearings on the subject. In 2005, for example, he testified at a hearing before the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission about a proposed Long Beach, California LNG import project, laying out the problems with an LNG incident:

  • A flammable vapor cloud could spread for 3-miles from a spillage of 3-million gallons.
  • A flammable vapor could travel a shorter distance from the site, ignite and kill or burn a significant number of people in a densely populated area.
  • And, nowhere did the proposed project address the potential impacts of a boiling liquid expanding vapor explosion that can occur with LNG. Nor did the company consider the hazard of LNG vapors exploding when in confined spaces.
  • There is clearly a risk of an LNG spill and pool fire from a terrorist attack at an LNG terminal, he stated.
  • An explosion can happen suddenly as well. Except for the spreading of the fire and other consequential or cascading effects, after the initial explosion or fire, much of the initial adverse impacts would not be mitigated.

Donald Trump, he doesn’t give a shit about you. His only loyalty is to the almighty dollars that he has stuffed into his pockets. 

  • October 30, 2020
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