The last Republican president followed the party line and deregulated the railroads. Donald Trump crowed that the “effect will be great.” But the GOP often seems pro-business, rewarding stockholders over community safety, regardless of the deceits Republicans in Congress feed their supporters.
Representative Eric Swalwell (D-CA) tweeted a 2018 headline from Fortune magazine that read, “Trump Rolls Back Train-Braking Rule Meant to Keep Oil Tankers from Exploding Near Communities.”
Adjacent to the small East Palestine, Ohio community, approximately 50 Norfolk Southern cars derailed. And the town’s citizens have been concerned about immediate and long-term consequences to their and their animals’ health.
About 20 percent of the overall 100 cars on the train were carrying hazardous materials, per previously available info. Five of the derailed cars were carrying vinyl chloride, which is used in hard plastic resin. “Vinyl chloride is associated with increased risk of liver cancer and other cancers, according to the federal government’s National Cancer Institute,” as NPR reported earlier.
Unfortunately, Trump’s administration reversed President Barack Obama’s rule requiring that trains with hazardous materials have updated and electronically controlled braking systems installed, although it’s not clear such would’ve stopped the disaster here. Federal investigators on the scene have said a rail car axle malfunctioned before the derailment in Ohio, NPR said.
Representative Eric Swalwell (D-CA) tweeted:
‘A news headline warned Trump’s deregulation of railroads could lead to train cars “exploding.” Trump proudly quote-tweeted “effect will be great.”’
Trump’s insinuated President Joe Biden did not care about the residents of East Palestine.
The White House has gone after the Republican talking points:
‘As President Biden told Ohio Governor Mike DeWine and Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro soon after the derailment, the Federal Government stands ready to provide any additional federal assistance the states may need.’
While Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg was tardy arriving on the scene, he’s evidently indicated he learned from this lesson. Unfortunately, that mistake fit right within the Republicans’ claims about the Biden administration not caring.
So President Biden’s asked people to keep in mind some of the facts, like that “administration officials were on the ground within “two hours” of the derailment,” as NPR noted elsewhere, before continuing: “The White House has previously noted that included teams from the Environmental Protection Agency and the Federal Emergency Management Agency, who were coordinating with local agencies and first responders and that the president was in communication with Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine and neighboring Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro.”
The president also added:
‘I have spoken with every single major figure in both Pennsylvania and Ohio, so the idea that we’re not engaged is simply not there.’
EPA Administrator Michael Regan, a Biden pick, has also addressed the situation. “They have to show up, and they have to make amends with this community,” he said, referring to Norfolk Southern, the company responsible for the train that derailed. “They caused this mess. They have to clean it up. And they have to prove to us and to the community that they’re genuine in all of the declarations that they’ve made. Not showing up to public meetings isn’t a great way to start.”
Dozens of staff from the Environmental Protection Agency have been on the ground where the train derailed, committing themselves to work like examining the environments inside and outside local residences and getting the train company to financially cover the necessary clean-up operation. The same press release from the White House also noted that the Department of Transportation and National Transportation Safety Board would involve themselves with efforts like obtaining details about what exactly happened and outlining a policy path to better securing U.S. railways.
Authorities also said that the Department of Health and Human Services and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would be “deploying a team of medical personnel and toxicologists to conduct public health testing and assessments. The team will include a medical toxicologist and the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry (ATSDR) Region 5 lead to support EPA and state health department efforts. ATSDR protects communities from harmful health effects related to exposure to natural and man-made hazardous substances and will send a team to interview people in the derailment area and conduct an Assessment of Chemical Exposure investigation.” The White House also described FEMA as in “constant contact” with other authorities.
Chair of the National Transportation Safety Board Jennifer Homendy said:
‘Enough with the politics. I don’t understand why this has gotten so political. This is a community that is suffering. This is not about politics. This is about addressing their needs, their concerns. That’s what this should be about.’
Trump’s criticisms fall far from the facts.
Gloria Christie is a political journalist for the liberal online newspaper The Bipartisan Report. Find her here on Facebook. Or at Three White Lions, her book written in her own unique style with a twist of humor on Amazon Kindle Vella and the Gloria Christie Three White Lions podcast on Apple, Spotify, Amazon Music, etc. Christie’s Mueller Report Adventures In Bite-Sizes a real-life compelling spy mystery (in progress).