(RoyalPatriot.com )- Last week, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg finally offered a more detailed response to the February 3 train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio by attempting to shift some of the blame to the Trump administration’s decision to withdraw a proposed Obama-era safety rule.
In a tweet last Tuesday, Buttigieg boasted that by making “historic investments,” his Transportation Department had taken steps to improve rail safety but added that the agency was “constrained” by the Trump Transportation Department’s 2018 decision to withdraw a rule proposed by the Obama administration in 2015.
The “Fixing America’s Surface Transportation” Act, signed into law by then-President Obama in December 2015, established a new process for the Transportation Department to use in updating the regulatory impact analysis on requiring high-hazard cargo trains carrying flammable chemicals to be equipped with electronically-controlled pneumatic (ECP) brakes. However, the Trump administration withdrew the proposal, arguing that the benefits of ECP brakes were inconclusive.
In a follow-up tweet, Buttigieg said he was prepared to work with Congress to further or restore the Transportation Department’s ability to “address rail safety issues.”
However, according to a fact-check from Politifact, even if the Trump administration hadn’t withdrawn it, the ECP brake rule not have stopped the train derailment in East Palestine because the Norfolk Southern Railway Company train did not meet the narrow definition of a high-hazard cargo train outlined by the Department of Transportation.
According to the Transportation Department, a high-hazard flammable unit train must have at least 70 cars carrying flammable materials like ethanol or crude oil. The chemicals carried by the Norfolk Southern train, including the vinyl chloride that was contained in five cars, all fall into a different Transportation Department classification.
In a tweet last Thursday, National Transportation Safety Board Chairwoman Jennifer Homendy confirmed that the Norfolk Southern train wouldn’t have been affected by the ECP brake rule. She said anyone suggesting that rule would have prevented the derailment is “spreading misinformation.”