Transportation Secretary to Finally Visit Stricken Ohio Town

( – President Joe Biden has not bothered to visit East Palestine, Ohio – a departure from the usual practice of commanders in chief visiting the sites of environmental and natural disasters.

But residents of the town contaminated with toxic chemicals from a 50-car train derailment on February 3rd will finally get some federal attention 20 days later.

Pete Buttiegieg, national Transportation Secretary, will visit the town on Thursday, February 23rd.

Buttigieg is not a popular federal official, with many seeing him as incompetent at his job and disconnected from what should be his priorities. East Palestine residents have criticized the Secretary for failing to visit the scene so far.

While the chemicals and a deliberate “controlled burn” were sending toxic plumes into the air around East Palestine, Buttigieg was on social media discussing the alleged problem of too few black and non-white people being hired for infrastructure projects.

Buttigieg further angered the press and the public recently when he refused to answer questions about the Ohio disaster, then appeared to get confrontational with an odd request to take a picture of the reporter asking the question.

Earlier this week, he said he planned to visit East Palestine “when it is appropriate.”

When Buttigieg arrives, he will meet with residents affected by the disaster and get updates on the situation from the National Transportation Safety Board, which is investigating the incident.

The crash in Ohio was only the first of three serious train derailments recently; trains in Michigan and Nebraska also derailed after the Ohio accident.

Unsurprisingly, Buttigieg defended himself against accusations of apathy and incompetence by trying to blame Donald Trump. He cited the 2018 withdrawal of a proposal that would have required trains carrying dangerous chemicals to have automated, electronically controlled air brakes.

It is unclear whether such equipment would have prevented any of the three recent derailments. During that period, the Department of Transportation said it was not convinced the automated braking system would deliver the promised safety benefits.

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