Transportation Secretary Buttigieg Under Increased Scrutiny Following Ohio Train Derailment

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg is receiving significant criticism from lawmakers after what they perceive as a slow response to the chemical spill following a train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio.

The Feb. 3 crash released vinyl chloride and at least four other dangerous chemicals. A remaining portion of the spilled chemicals were destroyed via a controlled burn.

The head of the Department of Transportation is now the center of attention regarding the spill and the response to it. The former 2020 Democratic Party presidential candidate waited ten days prior to issuing a statement on the situation in Ohio.

The cabinet secretary is under increasing pressure from both Republicans and Democrats following what some critics call a lack of transparency regarding the incident.

Critics argue that the secretary has been too focused on other tasks, including discussing concerns that there were racial inequities in transportation construction. During the Feb. 14 conference of the National Association of Counties, Buttigieg did not mention the crash.

The criticism hasn’t been coming solely from Buttigieg’s Republican rivals. Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN), one of the most left-wing members of the House of Representatives wrote on Twitter, “We need Congressional inquiry and direct action from @PeteButtigieg to address this tragedy.”

Outspoken Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-GA) agreed with the sentiments, calling the secretary “unqualified,” adding “America needs new leaders.”

Even environmental lawyer and the subject of the 2000 movie of the same name Erin Brockovich called on the Biden Administration to do more regarding the response to the crash.

Local media and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources reported on a large number of animals that have died near the crash site. Hundreds of dead fish have been found near the impacted site.

Republicans criticized Buttigieg in 2021 for taking paternity leave during the height of the supply chain crisis.

The large scale and public profile of the crash make the issue one that will likely not go away soon. Secretary Buttigieg has not announced a public date for a press conference regarding the crash