Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg at long last deigned to visit East Palestine, Ohio, on Thursday, 20 days after a toxic train derailment took place effectively contaminating the entire town and forcing residents to flee in fear for their lives over the spill.
He ridiculously wore a hard hat as he toured the site of the catastrophe with investigators a day after former President Trump spoke to residents in the town, telling them they had been betrayed by the Biden White House and the federal government. There’s no word whether he drank the water from the town’s supply or not.
About 50 rail cars, including 10 carrying toxic chemicals, derailed on the evening of Feb. 3 in East Palestine. Officials conducted a controlled release of vinyl chloride from some of the cars three days later to ostensibly avoid an explosion, sending hydrogen chloride and phosgene into the air which reportedly wound up in the water table.
(Video Credit: WKYC Channel 3)
Buttigieg has been excoriated for not coming to the site sooner. He claimed he didn’t want to distract from those handling the aftermath of the spill. Pretty much no one is buying that lame excuse. Republicans and Democrats both hammered him for his slow response to the toxic spill that is engendering fears of long-term illnesses including cancer. Pets and wildlife have reportedly died from the deadly chemical mess.
The transportation secretary spoke to National Transportation Safety Board investigators 24 hours after Trump handed out water, food, and cleaning supplies to residents and praised the courage of first responders, according to the Daily Mail.
Buttigieg tweeted Thursday morning, “This morning I’m in East Palestine, Ohio, to see the site of the Norfolk Southern derailment, hear updates from investigators, and meet first responders. USDOT will continue its work to ensure safety and accountability.”
He also met with some members of the community there and predictably took time to blame Trump for the catastrophe.
This morning I’m in East Palestine, Ohio, to see the site of the Norfolk Southern derailment, hear updates from investigators, and meet first responders. USDOT will continue its work to ensure safety and accountability. pic.twitter.com/okA6WI7uzI
— Secretary Pete Buttigieg (@SecretaryPete) February 23, 2023
Happy to discuss timing of our Ohio visit – but starting to think some in Washington want that to be the main focus so that there aren’t too many questions about rail safety regulation, who is for and who is against.
We will hold the line on railroad safety and accountability.
— Secretary Pete Buttigieg (@SecretaryPete) February 23, 2023
Buttigieg’s press secretary claimed to a Turning Point USA reporter that she was happy to answer questions about her boss’s late arrival once ‘aggressive’ cameras were turned off.
I asked Sec. Buttigieg why it took him almost 3 weeks to come and speak to residents of East Palestine.
His press Secretary then told me I was aggressive for trying to ask questions on camera: pic.twitter.com/bOB52DIq0O
— Savanah Hernandez (@sav_says_) February 23, 2023
Democrats are furiously attempting to blame Trump and Republicans for the catastrophe, but the narrative is falling flat with Americans.
The “effort by Fox News and Republicans” to use the pain of the East Palestine community “as a political weapon is both enraging and demeaning,” an anonymous senior Democrat told Politico.
“These are bad faith attacks from Republicans who have been in lockstep with the rail lobby to unravel safety protections,” White House Deputy Press Secretary Andrew Bates remarked.
Buttigieg and the EPA are now demanding that Norfolk Southern pays for the clean-up operation in East Palestine while the administration investigates the site. The railway has now claimed they take “full responsibility” for the derailment.
We cannot allow multibillion dollar rail companies to widen their profit margins at the expense of the health and safety of American families and the environment. pic.twitter.com/BYv3DYgU3Y
— TransportationGov (@USDOT) February 22, 2023
The former Indiana mayor had an awkward encounter earlier in the week with a Daily Caller reporter who confronted him on the street over the spill. Buttigieg confirmed he was going to East Palestine and then bizarrely attempted to take a photo of journalist Jennie Taer while he was walking around Washington, DC with his husband Chasten.
“Well, I’d refer you to about a dozen interviews I’ve given today and if you’d like to arrange a conversation, make sure to reach out to our press office,” Buttigieg told Taer.
He informed her that he wasn’t going to “have that conversation with you just walking down the street here.”
“You don’t have a message for them?” she asked.
“I do and I’ve shared it with the press many times today and I refer you to those comments,” Buttigieg replied.
The reporter further pressed Buttigieg on the issue and he wasn’t about to answer her, “No. I’m going to refer you to the comments I made to the press because right now I’m taking some personal time and I’m walking down the street.”
(Video Credit: Fox News)
Taer bulldogged Buttigieg on the issue of visiting East Palestine.
“Yup I’m going,” he responded but declined to give her a timeframe.
Then he got creepy and asked to take a photo of Taer.
“Can I get a photo of you?” Buttigieg asked and Taer agreed.
She posted her video of the encounter on Twitter later that evening.
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