Fracked Gas Bomb Trains Are Moving Through South Florida

New Fortress Energy has been quietly transporting dangerous fracked gas in South Florida for years, escaping public oversight — until now.

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Climate and Energy

By Michelle Allen and Phoebe Galt

A dense coastal landscape, Broward County never expected to be a battlefield for the fossil fuel industry. More accustomed to tourists and traffic jams than drilling and hazardous trucks, Broward County wanted to keep it that way. So they banned fracking. Within a year, the fracked gas industry moved to town, undeterred, with their latest scheme. It was a liquefied fracked gas (LNG) export out of Broward’s busy Port Everglades.

Now, LNG tankers dock alongside cruise ships, as New Fortress Energy quietly expands fossil fuel operations in South Florida. Fracked gas from out of state is brought via pipeline to a liquefaction facility in Medley. That’s where it is transformed from a volatile gas to a volatile liquid – liquefied fracked gas. That is then loaded onto truck and rail cars and transported over 30 miles to Port Everglades, where it’s Caribbean-bound. 

Transporting Volatile Fracked Gas Puts Floridians Directly In Harm’s Way

LNG transport and export keep our region locked into the very fossil fuels supercharging climate chaos, threatening our drinking water and way of life. It’s also putting Floridians directly in harm’s way. Liquefied fracked gas is no safer than regular fracked gas. It’s extremely volatile — leaks at the Medley facility or in transport to Port Everglades can form a flammable vapor cloud. If ignited, these vapor clouds can cause explosions up to a mile wide. 

Those explosions have been fatal. In 2020, A gas tanker truck in China exploded on the highway, killing 19 and injuring over 100 people. It’s simply too dangerous to put trucks carrying volatile liquefied fracked gas on the roads, especially on high traffic highways like I-95 where a collision with a vehicle could spell disaster. 

South Floridians are Unknowing Volunteers In A Dangerous Bomb Train Experiment

The use of trains in transporting liquefied fracked gas is new, untested, and extremely dangerous. South Florida is one of only three U.S. cities where the hazardous material can legally be transported by rail. All three of these dangerous rail transport approvals occurred during the Trump Administration. The Biden Administration has taken steps against the dangerous practice but stopped short of ending rail transport in South Florida. That makes South Floridians unknowing volunteers in a dangerous bomb train experiment.   

To make matters worse, South Florida’s liquefied fracked gas “bomb trains” are transported on the same rail line as Brightline. That’s the high-speed train with the highest death rate of any line in the U.S. Adding fracked gas bomb trains to the mix, sharing tracks with passenger rail, is a terrible idea. 

Despite Immense Risks, This Fracked Gas Project Escaped Public Oversight 

South Florida’s liquefied fracked gas export operation has been active for several years, but not many people know about it. Why? Because New Fortress Energy, the company behind the scheme, sought as few permits as possible, generating almost no public oversight.

First, the corporation used loopholes in federal law to evade the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s (FERC) jurisdiction. FERC is supposed to oversee gas liquefaction facilities, but New Fortress Energy successfully argued their way out of that process. New Fortress Energy got an air permit from Miami-Dade for the liquefaction facility. However, there wasn’t any oversight from the Broward County Commission when Port Everglades struck a deal with New Fortress Energy. This lack of government oversight means there were too few opportunities for public input. The public deserves an opportunity to weigh in on an operation that puts so many directly in harm’s way. 

The Broward County Commission Must Halt The Transport of Liquefied Fracked Gas At Port Everglades

For too long, South Floridians have been subjected to the dangers of New Fortress Energy’s profiteering liquefied fracked gas transport. Luckily, the Broward County Commission can do something about it. We’re calling on the Broward County Commission to halt the transport of liquefied fracked gas and investigate the risky operation.  

Port Everglades’ project was the first liquefied fracked gas export project in Florida. Not only has it endangered South Florida residents, but it sparked a push from the fossil fuel industry for more. Jacksonville is now also home to fracked gas exports. Alarmingly, there have been proposals for even more, including in the Panhandle and Tampa Bay. Furthermore, last fall New Fortress Energy doubled its operation in South Florida, sending more liquefied fracked gas into Broward communities. What’s to stop them from continuing to expand? 

The Broward County Commission must halt the transport of liquefied fracked gas and conduct an investigation into the operation.

Urge Broward County Commissioners to protect the public from this danger.