EPA Official Says Biden Admin Did Not Visit Disaster Site Because It Would ‘Divert’ Resources
EPA Administrator Michael Regan has responded to criticism that it took nearly two weeks for any senior Biden administration official to visit the site of the train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio.
During an appearance on Fox News Channel’s “America’s Newsroom” on Friday, Regan dismissed the criticism by arguing that a visit from a member of the Biden administration would “divert or pull away resources from the emergency response.”
He also argued that the train derailment — which caused toxic materials to pollute the environment in East Palestine — did not lead to loss of life or injuries “because emergency responders and local officials were able to focus on the job and not visitations.”
Fox News co-host Bill Hemmer began the segment by questioning Regan about the slow response from the Biden administration, citing criticism from Sen. Joe Manchin (D-WV).
“Sen. Joe Manchin said this, he said, ‘While [I am] glad…EPA Administrator Regan will visit the site today, [it is] unacceptable that it took nearly two weeks for a senior administration official to show up.’ To you then sir, what took so long?” Hemmer asked.
“I have to say I’m thankful for the emergency responders, including my EPA staff, that were on the ground hours after the train derailment and have been there since,” Regan responded. “And I think we have to be responsible here and understand, when you bring in a senior official, especially at the Cabinet level, you divert or pull away resources from the emergency response, from the state police, and the like.”
“And so, we wanted to be sure that the emergency responders had all of their resources and their focus to do what they’ve done,” he added. “Thankfully, no loss of life, no injuries, and that’s because emergency responders and local officials were able to focus on the job and not visitations. Yesterday was a great day for me to visit the derailment site. I spent time at a local creek. I spent time in a home, a member’s — a community member’s home. And so, we’ve been there since day one, I want to stress, we’ve been there since day one.”
Meanwhile, East Palestine residents are suffering from the effects of this disaster, with many experiencing severe symptoms due to the air and water pollution caused by the train derailment. Sen. J.D. Vance (R-OH) even shared a video on Twitter to prove that the toxic chemicals have seeped into the water.
Vance also spoke out against the EPA Administrator’s claims that the water in the area is safe — telling them that if they really believe that, they should drink it.
“If the EPA administrator wants to stand here and tell people that the tap water is safe, by all means, they should be willing to drink it,” the Ohio Republican said.
Despite his assurances that there was a proper response to the disaster, the Biden administration refused for almost two weeks to send any FEMA assistance to the site of the train derailment or to deal with the pollution that has resulted from it.
According to a statement from Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R), the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) claimed that the state was not eligible for federal assistance with the disaster.
“The DeWine Administration has been in daily contact with FEMA to discuss the need for federal support, however, FEMA continues to tell Governor DeWine that Ohio is not eligible for assistance at this time,” DeWine’s office said in a statement on Thursday.
FEMA finally announced their decision to help in the response to the disaster on February 17.