Senator J.D. Vance (R-OH) told host Matthew Boyle in an exclusive interview on SiriusXM’s Breitbart News Saturday that the East Palestine train disaster is not evidence of a problem with the free market, given that “these railroad companies have gotten in bed with big government.” Meanwhile, the Biden administration is currently making it more difficult to clean up the area in the small Ohio town.
“These railroad companies have gotten totally in bed with big government,” Vance said. “Most recently, three months ago, they were bailed out by the government in the form of the feds coming in, Joe Biden and others coming in and settling the labor union issue that the railroads have.”
“So you cannot tell me that this is the free market when you’ve gotten in bed with big government and are begging for big government privileges,” the senator continued.
Vance added that the Republican Party is “on the side of the firefighters and the police officers responding to these disasters, not the big train companies.”
“In East Palestine right now, there are thousands of tons of toxic dirt,” the senator added. “From this train derailment, you had the chemicals seeping into the soil, so we have to dig that stuff out, that contaminated soil, and get it out of there to proper facilities to dispose of it.”
“There are mounds of toxic dirt literally sitting on the ground in East Palestine. You know why? Because Joe Biden’s administration is making it harder to get that stuff to the proper disposal sites,” Vance revealed.
“We just cannot forget about these people,” the senator added. “If this town is not cleaned up in the right amount of time, this is a disastrous failure of government; a disastrous failure of every institution in our country that should be looking after vulnerable people.”
Vance also noted that “there are all these knock-on effects” from the Ohio train disaster, such as “farmers who can’t sell their hay, can’t sell their chicken eggs, because people are terrified that East Palestine is too contaminated.”
“There are small businesses that are completely hemorrhaging,” he added. “Think of what happened during COVID, but just happening to one small town where pretty much everything got shut down.”
As for what to do in order to prevent these types of disasters, Vance noted that he has presented a bipartisan bill.
“We’re not trying to create a new regulatory regime here, but we do want the trains to pay when they cause this problem. I think that’s totally fair and appropriate,” the senator said.
In addition to making train companies pay, the bill also “provides proper notice to the first responders when they go in to fight fires in these environments” so that “they actually know what they’re dealing with.”
“It’s a big problem in East Palestine,” Vance said. “These guys — we’re talking about a nearly all volunteer fire department — they went in to fight the fire in East Palestine and they had no idea that they were dealing with toxic chemicals. We have to change that.”
The bill also creates an incentive so that “these rails are installing safety detectors along the rail line,” the senator said.
“The train was starting to disintegrate,” Vance said of the train operated by Norfolk Southern that derailed in East Palestine last month. “The joint bearings were starting to disintegrate before it even crashed.”
“Somebody should have caught on to that and recognize the problem before it led to this catastrophic train derailment,” he said.
You can follow Alana Mastrangelo on Facebook and Twitter at @ARmastrangelo, and on Instagram.
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