House Republicans are looking for answers on the environmental disaster in East Palestine, Ohio and the federal government’s lethargic response to the derailment of a train carrying hazardous materials, an incident under the purview of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg.
Buttigieg, the former mayor of the smallish college town of South Bend, Indiana, who had no qualifying experience for his job other than being openly gay before being tabbed by President Joe Biden for the critically important slot, has repeatedly faced criticism for his role in managing the ongoing crises that have battered the nation over the last two years, most recently the unfolding situation in Ohio.
Oversight Republicans led by Rep. James Comer of Kentucky who chairs the powerful committee have announced their intent to probe “Mayor Pete” and have requested documents of communications regarding his public response to the toxic train derailment and subsequent burn-off including when he knew about the incident as well as documents on DOT changes to train maintenance procedures and “communications regarding the National Transportation Safety Board’s progress on the cause of the derailment,” according to a report from CBS News.
Secretary Pete Buttigieg was slow to respond to the train derailment catastrophe in East Palestine, Ohio. Oversight Republicans want to know why. https://t.co/rvhfy5CbBr
— Oversight Committee (@GOPoversight) February 24, 2023
“This incident is an environmental and public health emergency that now threatens Americans across state lines,” Comer and his fellow Republicans wrote to Buttigieg. “Despite the U.S. Department of Transportation’s responsibility to ensure safe and reliable transport in the United States, you ignored the catastrophe for over a week. The American people deserve answers as to what caused the derailment, and DOT needs to provide an explanation for its leadership’s apathy in the face of this emergency.”
Buttigieg sought to deflect the legitimate request from the Oversight Committee via Twitter.
“I am alarmed to learn that the Chair of the House Oversight Committee thinks that the NTSB is part of our Department. NTSB is independent (and with good reason). Still, of course, we will fully review this and respond appropriately,” he wrote.
I am alarmed to learn that the Chair of the House Oversight Committee thinks that the NTSB is part of our Department. NTSB is independent (and with good reason). Still, of course, we will fully review this and respond appropriately. https://t.co/beNgtBnHqj
— Secretary Pete Buttigieg (@SecretaryPete) February 24, 2023
Rep. Comer further discussed the probe into Buttigieg on Friday’s edition of “The Ingraham Angle” on Fox News.
(Video: Fox News)
“We want to know the response from the secretary of transportation. The people in this community in Ohio are concerned,” the chairman said. “No one from the federal government seemed to express an interest in their well-being. No one at high levels of the government. And we want to know what communication took place, who made what decision based on burning the chemicals, and how do we know who is coordinating with the EPA and other emergency agencies that will ensure that groundwater is not contaminated?”
“We just have a lot of questions, and this administration has been too busy to provide answers for the American people,” Comer continued. “The president is out in Ukraine promising more tax dollars to Ukraine, to protect their border, when our border is not secure and the secretary of transportation has had personal time. He hasn’t had time to go out there. So we want to know exactly who’s in charge and what decisions were made and when they were made.”
Buttigieg, who finally visited the scene on Thursday after weeks of criticism, insisted that the DOT has been there for the affected residents from the beginning.
From day one, our department has been there for the people of East Palestine. Our work will continue – and we’re in it for the long haul to make freight rail safer for all. That's a promise. pic.twitter.com/k5wR47A5hN
— Secretary Pete Buttigieg (@SecretaryPete) February 23, 2023
Buttigieg’s defenders flew into action with one of them being the Democrat-aligned Congressional Integrity Project, a part of the network of groups tasked with propagandizing against the new GOP House majority’s efforts to conduct oversight against members of the left-wing party that has been allowed to operate with impunity for years.
“Instead of doing some real good and looking into their leader Donald Trump’s role in the derailment after he rolled back regulations that were intended to prevent train derailments and chemical spills, they are only going after President Biden and his administration,” said the organization’s senior adviser, Brad Woodhouse, in a statement to gaslight the public into blaming former President Donald J. Trump for the environmental cataclysm that may have poisoned East Palestine residents.
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