(LifeSiteNews) — Conservatives and Republicans forced the Biden administration to respond to a straightforward environmental protection issue in East Palestine, Ohio, even though the current president would seem to want to act quickly on such issues.
But the slowness of President Joe Biden’s administration is emblematic of a broader problem with Democrats and liberals when it comes to the environment – they are fans of large globalist meetings, of United Nations pacts, of international agreements, and of hundreds of billions of dollars of climate change spending to prop up the solar and wind industry. But when it comes to actual environmental degradation in an America town, where were they?
We know that the Federal Emergency Management Administration initially denied aid to East Palestine, even though this clearly represented an emergency, given the questionable safety of the drinking water. Yet, it took conservative pushback and media coverage for FEMA to change its course.
Then it was only after former President Donald Trump announced he would visit East Palestine that the Biden administration appeared to start acting.
I do not have an issue with Biden not flying to East Palestine, which could divert valuable resources to prepping the area when emergency personnel are likely needed on the ground. However, Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg looks tone deaf when he speaks at a conference about not enough black and Hispanic people working in construction while East Palestinians do not have safe water. This from an administration that purports to be defenders of the environment.
“Four minutes after Trump Jr.’s tweet, the Federal Emergency Management Agency announced on Twitter it was sending a senior official and an Instant Management Assistance Team,” Roman Jankowski with the Heritage Foundation reported at the end of February. “It didn’t appear that the FEMA personnel were interacting with the residents of East Palestine in any meaningful way,” he further reported, based on his trip there. “The agency’s only presence in town that I saw appeared to be two unmarked recreational vehicles.”
Residents are understandably upset. Furthermore, the U.S. has laws on the books to protect the environment. These can be good laws that do not interfere with consumer choice, in the way that a gas stove ban would limit economic freedom.
A federal lawsuit notes:
Attorneys say that following the crash, Norfolk Southern violated federal law when it failed to immediately report the derailment, despite the urgent threat posed by the highly toxic chemicals spewing from the wreckage and a fire that was large enough to be detected by weather radar approximately 50 miles away in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. The company did not make a report until two hours after the crash.
The burn also released carcinogens. According to attorneys with the law firm Hagens Bermens:
At least five of the derailed cars transported more than a million pounds of vinyl chloride, a potent carcinogen linked to numerous deadly cancers, and as the fire continued, pressure mounted within the cars containing the toxin. The cars were equipped with emergency release valves to prevent explosions, but these malfunctioned due to poor maintenance, the lawsuit alleges.
Norfolk Southern cleanup crews performed a “controlled release” on Feb. 6, 2023, which, according to attorneys, consisted of blowing holes in the train cars and dumping their carcinogenic contents into a nearby ditch, where they were subsequently ignited. Burning vinyl chloride releases a host of toxic chemicals, including phosgene gas, which was deployed as a chemical warfare agent during World War I and is banned by the Geneva Convention.
Thankfully, some work is finally being done. The Environmental Protection Agency is continuing to remove contaminated soil from the area, as reported by WFMJ. “To date, the EPA says 5.7 million gallons of liquid waste has been removed from the site and shipped to permitted disposal facilities,” the local publication reported.
Politics may be to blame, as at least one liberal commentator acknowledged in her own way.
Joy Behar of “The View” appeared to imply that Trump voters were responsible for the damage, citing a false claim that a regulation rescinded while Trump was in office would have prevented the train tragedy.
“I don’t know why they would ever vote for him, for somebody who, by the way, he placed someone with deep ties to the chemical industry in charge of the EPA’s chemical safety office,” Behar said. “That’s who you voted for in that district. Donald Trump, who reduces all safety.”
Even the liberal USA Today has debunked the claim that a Trump-era train braking rule is to blame. “The brake mandate reversed by Trump only applied to high-hazard flammable trains, and the Ohio train didn’t have enough cars with flammable liquids to meet that regulatory standard. It would not have been required to have the newer brake system under the Obama-era rule,” the publication noted.
East Palestinians deserve better
The people of East Palestine deserve to be treated with respect and to have access to clean water and clean air. In the ensuing weeks after the controversy, progress has been made in bringing together Republicans and Democrats in the area to ensure that these American citizens are not left behind.
East Palestine is also a case study in what the priorities should be for American political leaders. First, it should start at home, ensuring that catastrophes like this are prevented as much as reasonably possible. Instead of flying to Davos or Paris to negotiate top-down, globalist environmental agreements, American political leaders should put America first and focus on pollution right here at home.
Second, the catastrophe shows the failures of the woke “Environmental, Social, and Governance” (ESG) standards which purport to be about protecting the environment but for now seem to be a globalist, feel-good scheme to control individual consumer choices. Notably, some of the top shareholders in Norfolk Southern were companies that have embraced the woke ESG agenda, such as Vanguard and Blackrock.
Being stewards of God’s green earth does not require us to allow China and the United Nations to dictate if we can buy gas stoves or gas-powered cars – it means keeping our environment here at home clean so that every citizen can breathe fresh air and drink clean water. That should not be a partisan issue and we need our politicians to remember that moving forward.