Buttigieg Travels to East Palestine Nearly 3 Weeks After Train Derailment


Nearly three weeks after a train carrying hazardous material derailed in East Palestine, Ohio, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg is visiting the town.

A video on Thursday morning showed Buttigieg in town, wearing a hard hat and reflective vest, and speaking with officials.

Watch the moment below:

His visit comes as the federal government’s response to the Feb. 3 derailment has faced scrutiny. It also comes after questions about whether he and President Joe Biden would visit the town.

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On Tuesday, Buttigieg told ABC’s “Good Morning America” he would visit the town “when the time is right.”

“People who were there because they have a specific job to do and are there to get something done. And people were there to look good and have their picture taken,” he explained.

He also said the Ohio derailment was just one out of 1,000 train derailments yearly.

And there certainly is some truth in what he said — though no politician would admit it. But the question of who will visit it has become a political issue.

Do you think Buttigieg should have visited sooner?

Former President Donald Trump visited East Palestine on Wednesday and claimed credit for getting the federal government to take action even though federal agencies had been responding to the derailment before his visit.

Biden also created an optics problem by embarking on his pre-planned, yet secretive, trip to Ukraine without visiting East Palestine sooner to reassure residents it was safe and they would not be forgotten.

This is not to say he should have skipped the dramatic trip to Ukraine. However, he had plenty of time to make his way to East Palestine beforehand. And we have seen him relatively quickly travel to the site of a disaster.

On Dec. 10, 2021, a deadly tornado ripped through Kentucky. Within days, Biden had announced plans to visit the state and survey the damage. Of course, a tornado is different than a train derailing in a town and having hazardous materials potentially leaking into the ground, water, and air. By contrast, the hazard is mostly over after the tornado.

But such a delay can only further questions about the federal response and why top officials had not visited. Do they not care about this small town? Or is it not really safe, and is the government lying to them? Are there health concerns about the president of the United States or transportation secretary traveling there? And if so, why is it OK for the average citizen to be there and drink water?

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To be fair, presidents and transportation secretaries do not show up to every single train derailment in the country to survey the damage.

But the apparent failure to recognize people were treating this specific incident differently and let Trump beat them to the punch is just a self-inflicted wound.

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