Pete Buttigieg Overcomes MAGA Lunacy To Rally For Safety Action

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Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg is continuing his public advocacy for action by Congress on safety across the U.S. transportation system.

After a train carrying potentially dangerous chemicals derailed in the area of East Palestine, Ohio, Republicans promptly began using the push for rail safety as an attempted political bludgeon against President Biden and his team members, including Buttigieg. The reality is that federal action has been ongoing, and members of Congress — including the complaining Republicans often so much more focused on so-called culture war issues — have a role in this. Buttigieg has pushed for specific reforms like increasing the financial penalties federal authorities can impose on railway companies in dangerous incidents like the Ohio wreck, and a bill proposed in the Senate called the Railway Safety Act contains such provisions.

Other inclusions range from adding fees dealing with hazardous chemicals to railway companies’ costs — money that would be used for supporting local first responders in handling spills and similar incidents. Buttigieg also has pushed elsewhere for rules increasing the minimum number of crew members per train to two. With Republicans, the perhaps surprisingly beleaguered Cabinet secretary has also criticized ideas of focusing more in automation in track inspections, which as anticipated would accompany an apparent decline in work hours devoted to visual examinations by actual people.

“Senate legislation would require companies to notify states when hazardous shipments are moving through their communities and expand HAZMAT training for local law enforcement and first responders,” Buttigieg posted Friday on Twitter. “Let’s not wait for the next disaster – pass the Railway Safety Act.”

“The Railway Safety Act would require the adoption of safer tank cars that carry hazardous materials by 2025, instead of 2029 – something we’ve called on Congress to get done,” he said in later remarks there. “The bipartisan legislation is on the table, now let’s make it law.”

Although the circus of GOP opposition to the Biden administration’s purported direction after the East Palestine derailment might suggest otherwise, train derailments unfortunately remain rather consistent, though with varying dangers. After Donald Trump himself made a show of visiting the area of the Ohio disaster, some began circulating the observation it didn’t seem Trump had made a single similar visit during his term in office, although derailments were taking place.