Republicans and even environmentalists are calling out the Biden administration’s pitiful and untimely response to the derailment disaster in East Palestine, Ohio, pointing out that the White House only decided to make a response after President Donald Trump announced he was visiting the area last week.
The train derailment caused the release of vinyl chloride and other extremely hazardous chemicals into the local ecosystem, and the disaster’s long-term effects are unknown.
Rep. Warren Davidson (R-OH) said it took Trump’s visit to get the Biden administration to start responding to the situation. He criticized Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg for not visiting Ohio until the day after Trump’s visit and the Environmental Protection Agency for not arriving until people in the community were being told it was safe for them to return home.
Davidson described Buttigieg as “not the right guy to be secretary of Transportation” and accused him of wanting a high-profile cabinet position without wanting to deal with any drama.
Residents and local officials have been calling for disaster relief assistance from the federal government. In contrast, the governors of Ohio and Pennsylvania have been visible in the aftermath. Ohio Republican Mike DeWine and Pennsylvania Democrat Joshua Shapiro have visited the residences of affected people, sampling tap water to show locals that it is safe to drink.
Progressive environmental advocate and legal consultant Erin Brockovich traveled to East Palestine to personally investigate the disaster. She accused federal agencies of misleading residents into believing that the water is safe to drink and the air is safe to breathe, despite reports of school drinking fountains being shut down and private wells being locked.
Brockovich claimed that the communities affected by the disaster felt that their agencies and administration did not care about what had happened to them.
She added that the fishkill reports are the East Palestine equivalent to the “canary in the coal mine” test used decades ago to determine whether the air in mine shafts was safe for miners. She said that residents’ observations rarely reconciled with what they were being told, particularly regarding freshwater.
Following President Donald Trump’s visit, former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani also visited East Palestine earlier in the week. Trump flew in pallets of bottled water and cleaning supplies, and Giuliani met with East Palestine Mayor Trent Conaway shortly before Buttigieg visited.
Joe Biden told reporters in a confused manner that he could not “recall” speaking with East Palestine’s mayor and that he had no plans to travel to the community. Davidson criticized Biden, saying he was lavishing attention and billions of taxpayer dollars on Ukraine while ignoring the Americans suffering in East Palestine.