Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg was strongly criticized for his seeming lack of response to the train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio.
The derailment, which occurred on February 3rd, started a fire that lasted several days. All residents within one mile of the crash were evacuated, after which officials began a controlled burn of the chemicals carried by the train in order to mitigate the risk of explosion.
The train was carrying vinyl chloride, a carcinogen that can poison water supplies. It was released into the atmosphere during the controlled burn, in the form of massive clouds of dark smoke that could be seen in eastern Ohio and Western Pennsylvania.
Buttigieg appeared on Monday at the National Association of Counties Conference to discuss topics such as racial equity in the field of construction, but did not speak about the derailment.
Rep. Lauren Boebert, R-Colo., tweeted that “Pete Buttigieg has finally emerged today. Not a single comment about the train crash in Ohio. Instead, he bemoaned the whiteness of the construction industry. It’s a miracle that this country is able to function at all under this regime.”
Rep. Anna Paulina Luna,R-Fla., said that Buttigieg should be questioned by Congress, tweeting that it’s “time to call in @PeteButtigieg for questioning for what is happened to the great people of Ohio train derailment & toxic chemical spill! The media won’t talk about this ecological disaster/public health crisis, but I will – and we *will* get answers…People’s lives are in danger!”
Rep. Lance Gooden, R-Texas, said that Buttigieg still hasn’t “said a word” even after “10 days have passed,” pointing out that the derailment caused a “200-mile-wide toxic rain cloud” and “polluted the water source of 5 million people.”
Rep. Andy Biggs, R-Ariz., pointed out that the derailment is “another transportation failure under Mayor Pete’s leadership.”
Buttigieg has previously been criticized for other incidents that took place during his tenure, such as taking months of paid paternity leave after he and his husband adopted twins, even as a supply chain crisis was occurring, and failing to prevent mass delays and cancelations at Southwest Airlines during the holiday season, less than one month before the Federal Aviation Administration grounded all flights because of a system outage.
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