Corruption: Trump Gave LNG Permit in Exchange for $100m Bribe


By Ann Henson Feltgen and Dan Christensen,

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.

A page from a 2015 ‘vulnerability analysis’ by Martin County Fire Rescue depicting the impact of an LNG rail car explosion at an intersection in Stuart. Authorities estimated that 2,410 people would be affected and nearly 400 would experience life-threatening injuries or death.
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.

22 LNG tank cars = Hiroshima bomb

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