NYT Debunks Dem Claim: Trump’s Rollback of a Rail Safety Rule Had ‘No Impact’ on Ohio Derailment

Donald Trump to Go to East-Palestine-Ohio-train-derailment-controlled-explosion-chemicals
AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images/James Devaney/GC Images

The New York Times acknowledged in a recent report that the Biden administration’s claims that former President Donald Trump’s administration was responsible for the train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, due to it rolling back a rail safety rule was inaccurate.

“The White House has pushed back on such criticism from Republicans, accusing both the Trump administration and Republican lawmakers of dismantling the Obama-era rail safety measures meant to prevent episodes like the East Palestine derailment,” the Times report said.

“According to the website PolitiFact, a rail safety rule repealed as part of a broad regulatory rollback under the Trump administration would have had no impact on the East Palestine derailment,” it said.

And on Friday, National Transportation Safety Board Chair Jennifer Homendy also admitted that the Trump administration’s repeal “would not have prevented” the derailment.

PolitiFact reported on February 15 that Democrats’ claims that Trump repealed a safety rule was “Mostly True,” but noted that it had no effect on the train derailment.

As PolitiFact reported:

During former President Barack Obama’s administration, the Department of Transportation enacted a rule requiring high-hazard cargo trains to be equipped with electronically controlled pneumatic brakes by 2023, allowing them to brake faster.

The Trump administration repealed this rule, citing government reports that found the cost of requiring these kinds of brakes was not economically justified.

Even if this safety rule had still been in effect, it would not have applied to the Norfolk Southern train that derailed in East Palestine, Ohio, because it was not categorized as a high-hazard cargo train.

Despite this debunking that the Trump administration was at fault for the Ohio derailment more than a week ago, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg perpetuated the lie while he visited Ohio a day after Trump.

PolitiFact reported that during the Obama administration, a new safety rule was adopted in 2015 requiring electronically controlled pneumatic brakes to be installed on all “high-hazard flammable unit trains” by 2023, allowing them to brake faster.

A high-hazard flammable unit train was defined as “a train going faster than 30 miles per hour with at least 70 loaded tank cars containing certain highly flammable liquids, such as crude oil and ethanol.”

Trump’s Department of Transportation rescinded that requirement in 2018, after determining that the costs were not justified.

Politifact reported, “However, even if this safety rule had still been in effect, it would not have applied to the Norfolk Southern train that derailed in East Palestine, because it was not categorized as a high-hazard cargo train.” It added:

Although the Norfolk Southern train contained hazardous materials, including vinyl chloride, it did not meet the Department of Transportation’s narrow definition of a high-hazard flammable unit train in that it didn’t have at least 70 cars containing flammable materials, such as crude oil or ethanol. The chemicals it was carrying fall into a different classification not included in this definition.

The National Transportation Safety Board told PolitiFact that the Norfolk Southern train was categorized as a “general merchandise” train and it used “pneumatic brakes,” or conventional air brakes.

The Biden administration is reeling after criticism that it acted too slowly after the derailment on February 3 and the subsequent release of toxic chemicals that forced residents to evacuate their homes.

As Breitbart News reported Friday, President Joe Biden only tweeted about the derailment a day before Trump was set to arrive in East Palestine, Ohio, on February 22.

Biden also chose to take a logistically-difficult surprise trip to Ukraine to commemorate one year of war before visiting East Palestine. Buttigieg visited East Palestine instead, a day after Trump arrived, distributing supplies and comforting residents.

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