Democratic Rep. Ro Khanna Criticizes Biden Administration Over Ohio Derailment Response

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Nicole Silverio Media Reporter
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Democratic California Rep. Ro Khanna criticized the Biden administration’s response to the East Palestine, Ohio, train derailment on Fox News’ “America’s Newsroom” Friday.

The 150-car Norfolk Southern freight train derailment Feb. 3 led to 2,000 evacuations for some residents and a shelter-in-place order for others in the community. The Biden administration recently rejected Republican Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine’s request for federal disaster assistance to mitigate the toxic chemical spill and fire, with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) saying natural disasters are classified as hurricanes, earthquakes, tornadoes and floods.

“I do think that’s a disaster,” Khanna said Friday. “These are working class folks, they’ve been abandoned by the country with NAFTA [North American Free Trade Agreement], with the World Trade Organization and the mission of China. Now they’ve got poison in their air, in their water. I don’t think it’s gotten enough media attention.”

“I think we should have administration officials there, the Department of Transportation and others to do town halls to answer questions. They need to be far more assertive; I mean, it’s awful what’s going on, and I don’t think we’ve done enough for people there,” he continued.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg responded to the emergency in a Twitter thread Feb. 14, 10 days after the derailment occurred. He said the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is investigating the incident along with “Federal Rail Administration and Pipelines and Hazardous Materials teams.” (RELATED: ‘We Basically Nuked A Town’: Three More Chemicals Discovered At Train Derailment Site)

“I continue to be concerned about the impacts of the Feb 3 train derailment near East Palestine, OH, and the effects on families in the ten days since their lives were upended through no fault of their own,” Buttigieg said in the thread. “USDOT [U.S. Department of Transportation] has been supporting the investigation led by The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB). Our Federal Rail Administration and Pipelines and Hazardous Materials teams were onsite within hours of the initial incident and continue to be actively engaged.”

Buttigieg told Yahoo! Finance on Thursday that the Ohio derailment is garnering a lot of media attention although approximately 1,000 derailments reportedly happen per year. Over 1,000 derailments occurred annually between 2019 and 2022, according to the Federal Railroad Administration.

DeWine on Tuesday urged Congress to investigate the alleged misclassification of the “high hazardous” material train as “non-hazardous,” despite toxic chemicals on board the locomotive.