Buttigieg Blames Trump for Ohio Train Derailment but Leaves Out One Inconvenient Detail


After a train carrying hazardous chemicals derailed in East Palestine, Ohio, on Feb. 3, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg hardly acted with alacrity.

For 10 days, the nation’s top transportation official was silent, according to Fox News, after a Norfolk Southern train carrying vinyl chloride derailed near the Ohio-Pennsylvania border.

On Tuesday, he broke his silence on the matter and let America know where the buck stopped: with Donald Trump.

In a series of tweets, Buttigieg seemed to cast some of the blame for the accident on a rule change during the Trump administration regarding braking systems on trains carrying dangerous chemicals.

He somehow failed to mention, however, that the Trump administration ended two years ago — and that he and his fellow Democrats have had every chance to rectify the situation if they really believed it would cause an accident like this.

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As per National Review: “In 2018, Trump’s Department of Transportation repealed a 2015 rule mandating that trains hauling highly flammable crude oil be equipped with special brakes that stop all rail cars simultaneously. The advanced brakes were designed also to keep more tank cars on the track in the event that a derailment occurs.”

After 10 days of silence, this became Buttigieg’s scapegoat.

“We’re constrained by law on some areas of rail regulation (like the braking rule withdrawn by the Trump administration in 2018 because of a law passed by Congress in 2015), but we are using the powers we do have to keep people safe,” the transportation secretary said in a tweet.

“And of course, I’m always ready to work with Congress on furthering (or in some cases, restoring) our capacity to address rail safety issues.”

This came at the end of a Twitter thread in which Buttigieg touted the infrastructure investment the Biden administration was making in terms of rail transportation — a drum that everyone in the administration beats with great frequency:

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The question practically asks itself, then: If the Biden administration has been able to do so much regarding rail spending and safety since Amtrak Joe took office in 2021, what was preventing the DOT from working with a Democrat-controlled Congress to reinstate this all-important law that our absent transportation secretary now wants to blame for the East Palestine derailment?

Assume that these brakes would have prevented the derailment, which isn’t at all clear. Trump’s gone. He’s been gone for a while, in case you haven’t noticed.

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If there’s one “accomplishment” Bidenistas can point to, it’s the infrastructure overhaul. To this conservative, much of it looks like a gussied-up version of Keynesian ditch-digging, but let’s be generous and assume it’s effective.

Thus, if this rule change was so dangerous that a tragedy like East Palestine was bound to happen, what does it say that the most infrastructure-obsessed administration since Eisenhower didn’t get around to reversing it? Not that Donald J. Trump bears responsibility, that’s for sure.

After the derailment, Norfolk Southern conducted a controlled release of the toxic gas after residents were evacuated to prevent a potential explosion. Officials say the air is now safe to breathe, although residents are reluctant to return to the area. One local hazardous materials specialist told Fox News they have good reason to worry.

“The railroad company is responsible for this and for these people who went back to their homes,” Sil Caggiano said.

“Their homes should have been tested. Their homes should have been cleaned. From the onset, these people were being marginalized in an effort to mitigate this.”

“This really looks like a nuclear winter,” he added. “Pretty much, yeah, we nuked this town with chemicals.”

Correction, Transportation Secretary Buttigieg would probably say: Donald Trump “nuked this town with chemicals.” And don’t you forget it.

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C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014.
C. Douglas Golden is a writer who splits his time between the United States and Southeast Asia. Specializing in political commentary and world affairs, he's written for Conservative Tribune and The Western Journal since 2014. Aside from politics, he enjoys spending time with his wife, literature (especially British comic novels and modern Japanese lit), indie rock, coffee, Formula One and football (of both American and world varieties).
Morristown, New Jersey
Catholic University of America
Languages Spoken
English, Spanish
Topics of Expertise
American Politics, World Politics, Culture