Skip to content

Just Moments After Trump Declares Trip to East Palestine, FEMA Announces Reversal on Ohio Disaster Aid

Donald Trump on Friday announced his decision to travel to East Palestine, Ohio, the site of an ecological disaster caused by a Norfolk Southern train derailment on February 3.

The announcement was reported by Rogan O’Handley, a close associate of the former president.

“President Trump will be visiting East Palestine, Ohio next week This is what a real President looks like,” O’Handley tweeted.

A source “close to Trump” told Fox News Digital that he plans to visit with members of the community, adding that the 45th president has a strong relationship with the people of Ohio.

Trump’s announcement came soon after the White House said President Joe Biden has no plans to visit the area. In the two weeks since the train derailment and ecological disaster, neither Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg nor President Joe Biden has visited the county.

Columbiana County, where the epicenter of the environmental fallout is located, voted over 70% for Donald Trump in the last election.

“Just in case you were wondering why Biden and Buttigieg are ignoring the toxic chemical spill in East Palestine, Ohio,” O’Handley remarked. “Columbiana County voted 71.7% for Trump in 2020.”

Trump’s announcement that he would visit East Palestine preceded the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s reversal of its earlier decision to deny Ohio federal disaster relief.

“Following further discussions with FEMA tonight, they will be deploying federal resources to East Palestine,” Ohio Gov. Mike Dewine (R) announced on Friday evening.

“FEMA and the State of Ohio have been in constant contact regarding emergency operations in East Palestine. U.S. EPA and Ohio EPA have been working together since day one. Tomorrow, FEMA will supplement federal efforts by deploying a Senior Response Official along with a Regional Incident Management Assistance Team (IMAT) to support ongoing operations, including incident coordination and ongoing assessments of potential long-term recovery needs,” DeWine said in a joint statement with FEMA Regional Administrator Thomas C. Sivak.

Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg earlier blamed the Trump administration for the train derailment, while claiming he was powerless to do more to prevent it. But a Biden official on  Thursday called out Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg for spreading “misinformation” about his dodging of responsibility for the train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio and his blame of former President Donald Trump.

Buttigieg claimed on Tuesday he is “constrained by law on some areas of rail regulation” and then cited a “braking rule” that was removed in 2018 during the Trump administration.

But National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) Chair Jennifer Homendy retorted on Twitter: “PLEASE STOP SPREADING MISINFORMATION” about the cause of the train disaster.

She blasted the claim as “misinformation” and directly addressed the ECP (electronically controlled pneumatic) brake rule.

“That leads me to my last point: anyone speculating about what happened, didn’t happen, or should’ve happened is misleading a suffering community – PLEASE STOP SPREADING MISINFORMATION. For example… Some are saying the ECP (electronically controlled pneumatic) brake rule, if implemented, would’ve prevented this derailment. FALSE.”

The NTSB Chair explained that “The ECP braking rule would’ve applied ONLY to HIGH HAZARD FLAMMABLE TRAINS,” and that “the train that derailed in East Palestine was a MIXED FREIGHT TRAIN containing only 3 placarded Class 3 flammable liquids cars.”

“This means even if the rule had gone into effect, this train wouldn’t have had ECP brakes,” Homendy stated.

Homendy expanded on the reason that blaming the removal of the brake rule under the Trump administration was a false narrative.

Homendy added that “nothing is more important than accuracy at a moment like this,” and that “anyone speculating about what happened, didn’t happen, or should’ve happened is misleading a suffering community.”

On Thursday, Norfolk Southern said the train “was not considered a high-hazard flammable train.”

Thus, even if the rule mandating ECP brakes were to have gone into effect, it would not have necessarily applied to the Norfolk Southern train that derailed in East Palestine.

Norfolk Southern is owned by a number of major investment firms, including BlackRock, Vanguard, and JP Morgan Chase. In 2017, the rail company successfully lobbied the U.S. government to do away with mandatory safety regulations, such as pneumatic brakes and minimum staffing requirements. The rail company had recently lobbied the government to maintain these lax safety regulations.

“Before this weekend’s fiery Norfolk Southern train derailment prompted emergency evacuations in Ohio, the company helped kill a federal safety rule aimed at upgrading the rail industry’s Civil War-era braking systems,” according to documents reviewed by The Lever. According to the report, the train was not being regulated as a “high-hazard flammable train.”

At the same time as it was lobbying for the lax safety rules, Norfolk Southern paid executives millions and spent billions on stock buybacks, even as it shed thousands of employees despite warnings that understaffing would increase safety risks. Norfolk Southern officials also fought off a shareholder initiative that would have required executives to “assess, review, and mitigate risks of hazardous material transportation.”

The Biden administration on Thursday had rejected Republican Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine’s request for emergency aid to deal with the ecological disaster ensuing from the Norfolk Southern train derailment. But it’s amazing what a little political one-upsmanship from Donald Trump can accomplish to push a Biden administration that is apparently only interested in optics.


‘Groundbreaking’ New Bill Would Make It a Misdemeanor Crime to Give a Covid-19 Vaccine

"*" indicates required fields

Who would you vote for? Trump or DeSantis?*
This poll gives you free access to our premium politics newsletter. Unsubscribe at any time.
This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

OPINION: This article contains commentary which reflects the author's opinion.