LEVER TIME: How to Derail the Anti-Safety Train Lobby
11:44PM Feb 28, 2023
Hey there and welcome to another episode of lever time the flagship podcast from the lever, an independent investigative news outlet. I'm your host, David Sirota on today's show, we're going to be talking about fury, anger and fear. Those are the feelings that residents who live near East Palestine have been expressing to our main guest on this episode, Pennsylvania Congressman Krista luzio, the lever team has been covering the Norfolk Southern train derailment since the beginning. And this conversation with Congressman deluzy illuminates what he's been hearing from his constituents in western Pennsylvania, who've been affected by the disaster. deluzy Hill also has a lot to say about the railroad industry's culture of greed, and its anti safety lobbying effort, which have put us where we are today. After our interview, by the way, deluzy Oh, introduced his first bill in Congress, prompted in part by the levers reporting on rail safety, so I'm really eager to get to that. As always, I'm joined here with producer Frank, British Frank, what's up
now much, David, it's been a weird weekend on Twitter watching the defenders of Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg, sort of rally to his defense. i It's, maybe it's because this is the first time that I'm, you know, found myself working in political media on the left and sort of seeing the backlash that these sort of like Democratic Party ideologues and like rank and file voters have to the party and the the officials in it, but it's just been really bizarre to watch.
It has been and I think you're referring to the fact that a lot of them are very angry at us for holding Secretary Pete Buttigieg accountable for his role in not better regulating the rail industry. He of course, is the chief regulator of the rail industry in the United States. He is not alone. It's worth saying the deregulation of the rail industry has spanned at least three presidential administrations, if not more. But, yes, the culture of the Democratic Party is to defend Democratic politicians almost regardless of what the facts show. And regardless of whether those officials need pressure now, I've been gratified by the fact that the lever has ignored those sycophants continued to do the reporting we've done and Pete Buttigieg has gone from Silence, to sort of acknowledging the situation but saying, hey, you know, I'm constrained there's not much I can do to then finally saying, yes, there are things that I can do and that I'm going to do. I think it's going to take some serious sustained pressure to get him to follow through. But his evolution is because we hit the lever and and others have ignored that blowback and continued to keep the pressure on I mean, that's the other side of the story, right?
Yes, I think for people who, you know, watch MSNBC, who read the New York Times who haven't really thought critically about their own party, because yes, I mean, we will concede the Democrats are not nearly as you know, horrifically terrible as the Republicans so it's, I think it's easy for Democratic voters to really have come to believe like no, this is this is the good party like they're the good people. So I understand where that impulse comes from, you know, you want to defend what in your mind is sort of like the the only the last bastion of hope to between you know, democracy and fascism but it's, it's sad because you can't you gotta go deeper than that you gotta go farther, you got to be more critical. You gotta you got to push you gotta you got to dissent. Because if you don't, then you know, we're just going to remain in the status quo, or even worse, it's going to degrade even further.
Before we get into our main story about what's going on in near the Ohio Pennsylvania border. some sad news here at lever time. Today is producer Frank's last day producing lever time producer Frank was the original producer of lever time have helped launch the show. Frank, we will we will miss you very much. But we're not actually fully losing you tell folks what you're going to be doing.
Yeah, thanks so much, David. Yeah, I'm going to be transitioning out of this full time position as the lead Podcast Producer at the lever, but hopefully, I mean, not hopefully, I'm gonna, I'm gonna I'm gonna do my darndest to make sure that I get to continue working with the lever doing any kind of, you know, creative work, anything that comes up because I really just I love contributing to the success of this organization. And I will still be hosting the levers other podcast movies versus capitalism every week. So you can always hear me there. Go over and subscribe if you already haven't. And anyone that's like, you know, what, what gig did he get that he's like, I'm not going anywhere. I'm just taking a much needed break at the moment. And I just want to Say how amazing it has been to produce this show. I mean, David, we've done some really, really cool work over the last year. And I am so proud of it. I mean, we built the levers, Podcast Network from nothing. Now we have three shows, we've got a live show, and there's even more exciting stuff coming down the pipeline. And I am so grateful that I have gotten the chance to know everyone who works here. We have such an amazing team. And I'm so lucky to be a part of this project, which is so so important in our current media landscape. And it means so much to me. And David, thank you so much, man. I mean, you really, you really took a shot on me. I mean, I hadn't really worked professionally in political media, you know, quote, unquote, and you really put a lot of faith in me, and you gave me this amazing opportunity. I mean, really quickly. I don't know if you remember, when I was interviewing for this job. I was also interviewing for a similar job somewhere else. And that job made me and we were, you know, we were still going back and forth. That job made me like a on the fly offer. And they were like, here's an offer, you got to take it. And I called you up and I was like, Hey, dude, I know, you're still interviewing other people. I know, you haven't made a decision yet. But like, this other place made me this offer. And I'd have to take it if you don't hire me, but like, I want to work for you so bad. And, and we, we figured it out like that, like I think literally that night and it was my birthday. And it was just like such a great. Such a great moment. And I've learned so much from you. And I've grown so much in the past year. So thank you, David. And I know that I know this feels like a goodbye. But it's not because I'm I will be promoting the levers work from now on whether or not you are paying me so. So yeah, and also thank you to all of our listeners and subscribers. I know you you hear this line a lot. But we really couldn't do this without you. And it has been so awesome to become a part of this community. And I am forever grant.
Well, producer Frank, we love you, we could not have started this podcast. Without You. We could not have started the podcast network without you. You are an incredibly talented producer, I am thrilled that you are staying on doing movies versus capitalism, a show that I absolutely love that speaks to, to something I've been obsessed with for a long time, the subtle messages, very political and ideological messages baked into seemingly a political, non ideological pop culture content. That is a really, really important thing to unpack on a weekly basis, and you're doing a great job of it. So we love you here. I am glad that we are going to continue working together, you have been an integral part of this team. And I want to echo what Frank said, Frank couldn't do the work that he has been doing, I couldn't do the work that I have been doing. The lever couldn't be doing the work that it has been doing without subscriber support. So thank you to all of our paying subscribers who are helping support that work. And make sure to go subscribe, by the way to movies versus capitalism. Frank, what's the URL
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Okay, we're gonna take a quick break, but we're gonna be right back with the big topic of the day is the situation in East Palestine. We're going to be talking to Congressman Crystal luzio from Western Pennsylvania, about what's happening in his community there what's happening on the ground, also talking to him about how to hold the powerful accountable in that situation. Welcome back to labor time. For our main story. Today we talked with US Congressman Crystal luzio from Pennsylvania. He is a freshman member of Congress who represents the district right near the train derailment disaster in East Palestina, Ohio. As I said, he's a first year congressman, he's been speaking nonstop with his constituents about what's going on and they are very angry and distrustful of the response from Norfolk Southern, as well as from the government. Chris has been very vocal about the need to hold these giant rail companies accountable. In fact, just today as we're recording this, he and California Congressman ro Khanna introduced a bill which would broaden the definition by which trains get classified as so called high hazard flammable trains if you can believe it. The Ohio train was not classified as a high hazard flammable train was not subject to the tougher rules that come with that classification wasn't classified that way as we surfaced in our original reporting. And the bill is a response to lawmakers say it's a response in part two, the reporting that we did, and the facts that we uncovered, whether it will pass Congress or not. That's a that's a big question. I talked with the congressman about what his constituents in Pennsylvania have been feeling what the rest of his plans are for dealing with this environmental disaster, and how Congress and the Biden administration can hold Norfolk Southern accountable. Congressman Crystal luzio represents a district right near the scene of the derailment. It's in western Pennsylvania. Let me let me do a little bit of a biography of crystal luzio for a sec. Before we get into this discussion. Crystal Lucille is a new Congress person he was elected in 2022. He's serving his first term in Congress representing Pennsylvania's 17th District out in western Pennsylvania. He's an Iraq war veteran, a voting rights attorney and a union organizer. He went on to work in early in his career at the Brennan Center for Justice on the voting rights and election security issues. He was also part of the pit faculty organizing committee with the United Steelworkers when they fought successfully for a union. And today we're here to talk about what's going on in Pennsylvania, and in Ohio, and what it means for those communities and what it means for the rest of the country. So, Congressman, thanks so much for joining us, why don't you first tell us how close your district is to East palaeocene? And how much you think your district in the communities in your district are being affected by the fallout from the derailment in East Palestine?
Well, David, thank you for having me. And thanks for the attention you've been paying to this catastrophe. You know, my constituents and Beaver County, are right there on the Pennsylvania side of the state line. And so I had constituents who are within the zone, in order to evacuate, I have plenty of constituents who are scared and are worried about how this might impact their health, their safety. And you know, more broadly, the area I represent, like a lot of this country, our towns have tracks run right through them, where I'm sitting right now at home, I've got, you know, Norfolk Southern trains running four or five blocks from where I live, this is a reality of the area I represent. And these trains run through our neighborhoods. And so certainly the folks in Beaver County are impacted pretty tremendously. And this is a problem that if we don't make this industry safer, it's going to keep hurting the people I represent.
What are you hearing from folks right now, both their concerns and any specific consequences that they've felt from this specific derailment? What are you hearing from from the community?
Well, there's a general sense of fury and anger about this railroad and what's what they've done. And there's a sense of fear, and not knowing whether you know, life is safe right now for them, their air to breathe water, drink, soil, wildlife, all the basic things you think about and take for granted if you're in a place that's safe. And so we very quickly were pushing to get the EPA on the ground and have EPA helping, and they were on the ground almost immediately. The states, Ohio and Pennsylvania, you know, have the lead on water testing, and push and agree with our governor who now has the state doing that testing rather than anyone associated with the railroad whose trust is completely broken here with the people I represent and with me personally. And so you know, those basic things of Is it safe for us to drink our water and breathe our air? And we've heard from even most recently, I talked to someone who's got a business. We've heard some of this or seen some reports of this from farms as well of look, you know, there's, there's there's sort of dust or things that you know, were related to the big burn off and the big explosion on surfaces. The basic kind of cleanup is that you know, who's paying for that is are we safe? Is it a problem and risk for our health beyond the very similarly urgent problem of can we breathe our air and can we drink our water? So these are all the kinds of problems we're hearing about? And looming in the background is will this railroad be held to account for the harm they've caused? And the obvious answer it should be obvious from someone like me is they absolutely better be now be pushing to make sure they are.
So you just wrote a letter to Norfolk Southern CEO, making some specific demands. Why don't you tell us what demands you've Made of Norfolk Southern. And if you've heard any response to it, tell us about that? Well, the
most recent letter we sent was to the CEO of Norfolk Southern, frankly, laying out pretty clearly why I think it's ridiculous. They haven't expanded this zone, beyond the evacuation zone where they're providing some financial assistance to people affected. And more problematic than even the fact that they haven't expanded this zone. They've done that on the Ohio side for all residents of East Palestine. But we, you know, I had my staff call the Assistance Center, they've set up to check before I sent this letter. And the reception my staff got when they called was, basically there's nothing to be offered to the Pennsylvania folks, which is ridiculous. And so I've called for them to expand that range to 30 miles, so that folks who are impacted here, in the most broadest possible sense have access to those resources. I think it's something they ought to do if they're if they're serious about these talking points, they're spreading around saying that they're here to try to rebuild trust? Well, here's a basic thing you can do. And I've not yet heard back.
When you talk about holding the company accountable, I mean, there's that can mean a lot of different things. If you could wave a wand, and make sure the company does X, Y, and Z beyond for instance, expanding the the zone that you're talking about, what would those steps look like?
Well, first and foremost, it's the EPA, Porter, EPA ordered, excuse me as part of it, that this railroad is on the hook for every single penny of cleanup. And the cost that those folks bore when they had to evacuate when they had to leave their homes when they had to make their homes clean and safe again, when they had to get water and air testing. And whether the government's providing that if people did that on their own, or some combination of both. That is Norfolk Southern responsibility. And then there are the broader spill on effects. You've got a small family farm, you've got a manufacturing facility, you've got a small business, and you couldn't ship things out, you couldn't get your workers in because they were scared, you couldn't run your business, you couldn't run your farm. Those are real economic consequences that Norfolk Southern negligence and incompetence caused, and they gotta make those people and whatever the longer term costs are for the government, and I mean that broadly, whether it's the federal EPA, or the state DPS here, to continue to monitor and test our soil, our air and our water. Again, those are costs that this railroad should be bearing. And that's not even getting into the changes around the culture of greed in this industry that are making rail travel less safe and dangerous for communities like the ones I represent.
So you're you're a new member of Congress, you haven't yet experienced the power of the lobby and and how much it gets its way. In Congress. You're there now. Have you heard from your colleagues from leadership of both parties, about what they're planning to do, if anything legislatively? And have you heard any, I guess, pre emptive ramp up from the rail industry to try to prevent whatever Congress may do from doing?
Well, I'll start with the second part of that. I'm sure the rail industry just based on their history of lobbying aggressively, whether it's administration's or Congress against anything that might add a few pennies of cost, but keep us safer. I'm sure this industry and this railroad will be lobbying against things that are going to make their business have to run more safely, if it puts any risk of, you know, affecting their profit. So I'm sure there'll be fighting. You know, and look, I'm not naive. Frankly, my Republican colleagues for too long carried water for this industry and resisted any efforts to regulate them to make them have to operate more safely. Now, I also want to say something nice about my Republican colleague on the Ohio side of the line, Bill Johnson, Bill seems very committed to reform to making sure this railroad and this industry operates more safely, I hope, and expect that we'll have some Republican buy in to do that. I think the jury's still out. And I don't know exactly where the consensus will land. But I think when you've experienced something like his conservative constituents and mine have, you know that something has to change around the way this industry treats its workers about the way it runs through communities without telling them what hazardous materials are the way that they have embraced this PSR this precision scheduled railroading doctrine that wants to squeeze every ounce of profit they can out whatever the cost, others might be. It's a mistake and I'm hopeful I'm not naive that there might be. There might be some bipartisan buy in here. But I think we have some fights ahead.
So there have been some questions about whether the water is safe the water not only in the in the in the streams, but in the water table itself. The groundwater is, is our chemicals going to leach into the groundwater? There's also been some questions about whether the EPA is reassurances and whether Governor Mike DeWine of Ohio, his reassurances should be should be trusted. When the EPA comes out and says, Hey, things are okay. When Governor Mike DeWine comes out and says, Hey, you know, everyone can return home, everything's, everything's fine. Should people trust that? Because from my perspective, I both understand why people would be distrustful, I would be distrustful, there's decades of evidence about why to not necessarily take these agencies, especially EPA, which has been underfunded, I don't think it's I don't think it's ill intentioned. I just think it's underfunded, I might be distrustful of that. But so. So I guess, what do you say to to your constituents, to the communities to folks who are wondering about this? What should be trusted, what shouldn't be trusted?
I think the thing that I try to have my team and certainly I do too, and we're talking to my constituents is we are pushing to have every federal resource we can to support Governor Shapiro and the team in Harrisburg with state resources to make sure that there is testing that goes to exactly this trust, the feeling of safety and knowing whether you should feel safe. You know, I've gotten the question, should I go back to my home? And, you know, would you drink the water and breathe the air in your home? Well, the answer is, I wouldn't, until I had the testing done, which is out there and can be done. And the testing that we have to do for as long as it will take, I don't know, if it's months or years, to see if any of these chemicals ultimately affect our soil or groundwater, you name it. What I have heard from the administration, direct from the EPA Administrator, at least on the federal side is those, there is a commitment to do this as long as it takes and to make sure that there isn't something that will impact people's health down the road. And, you know, certainly if we're hearing from experts that other testing and other types of resources are needed, I'll push for that. I'm not I'm not being told no, when we're asking the federal agencies here, to do things to help my constituents, there is a real commitment to make sure these people are are the railroad, excuse me is held to account and the people who I represent, have what they need to be able to live a normal life and live a healthy life. And certainly, I think a good example of that was seeing the water testing, taken away from the railroad or its contractors and have it done on our side of the border through our state DEP that matters. You know, they don't have they don't have the same kind of incentives that a railroad does to tell you everything's okay. I think that's part of public trust is getting rid of those kinds of conflicts of interest. So people have, you know, a neutral party, the government here who doesn't have a reason to have, it has only a reason to make sure that this is done properly, and that you are safe. And, frankly, that whatever the cost, we're all bearing this railroad Walton, we have to pay for them.
I want to ask sort of a philosophical question about this, because I was going back and forth with another member of Congress kind of privately on this, and and there was a question of, you know, holding the company accountable, holding the regulator's accountable, it's my take, and I'd just be curious, your response to this, it's my take that a company like Norfolk Southern, really any giant company is going to do everything it can to maximize profits within the within the the laws and the rules that are laid out for it. It's going to do that, regardless of how much it harms communities. In some ways, that is the legal obligation. Unfortunately, in America, of corporate leaders to simply maximize profits, without really caring about any, any other priority, that might be a priority for the public. And that that means that what we're really what we really need to talk about, where the activism really needs to focus is on the people in public office, who are empowered to create those rules. And to enforce those rules. There's been this question about whether the Department of Transportation under three administrations, the Obama administration, the Trump administration, and now the Biden administration, whether they have put in place regulations that are necessary to prevent these kinds of things from happening. So there's this kind of philosophical debate about well, should the pressure be on Norfolk Southern? I mean, certainly, I think it's maybe perhaps all yes, it should be on Norfolk Southern it should be on regulators. But I guess stepping back, where do you put the blame for this on I mean, NTS. He said it wasn't the workers on the train. So is the blame on the lacks regulation? Is it on the company? Or is the is the company just doing what any company would do, which is essentially not care about the community? If it if it's not forced by the rules and laws to care about the community?
I think your question gets to the heart of what the heck is the job and role of our government? And do you see, you know, government through this neoliberal prism, where, you know, we deregulate, we allow the market to dictate terms, we allow, you know, Wall Street, frankly, to dictate terms. You know, and we believe in this sort of Reagan esque idea that government should get out of the way. Well, the consequence of that this derailment and other other issues, other examples, we see all the time in places like I represent, I think the government, it has a serious role to play in protecting us from big and powerful corporations who, as you say, because of shareholder primacy, a doctrine that, you know, is not necessarily one that has to be the dominating principle of how these companies are run. But because of that belief, because of Wall Street's dictating terms and the pressure they put on these companies and the culture, they do put profit above our safety above our communities above our neighborhoods. And so that means our government needs to be there to set rules and set norms and wield some power over these companies. That means workers have to have some power as a countervailing force to hold them to account if you listen to what the rail workers have been saying for a long time. And, look, I wasn't in the Congress, but I made clear, I wouldn't have imposed terms on those workers. If anything, if I was being asked to break a strike, I would have imposed the workers terms on these companies. But the workers have been sounding the alarm about this industry in particular for a long time. And so I think your question gets to the heart of, frankly, who has power and what the role of government is. And I think, and I sense, increasingly, as we've seen corporate consolidation, not just here, but across our economy, as we've seen, unions beat up on workers beat up on and, frankly, interest in unionization and organizing rising, you're seeing something change, I hope. And I think part of that is confronting this corporate power that has just been crushing too many communities, too many workers to many industries in this country. And, you know, I don't want us to have catastrophes to have to be the impetus to make some change. But here we are. And this has come certainly to my constituents in my neck of the woods. And we got to be doing some fighting here to make sure this doesn't happen again.
So let's take some questions from the audience here. We've got about 10 more minutes with Congressman Crystal luzio. So if you want to ask questions, type them into the room chat. We got a question from Stephen, who asks, Why doesn't Congress banned companies from using taxpayer money on stock buybacks? I would add to that, as part of the response to this? Do you think there will be an increasing focus on stock buybacks in the context of Norfolk Southern, essentially cost cutting on personnel cost cutting on sensors and the like, maintenance and the like, while spending billions and billions of dollars on stock buybacks? And as part of your answer, if you wouldn't mind, maybe you can explain to folks who don't fully understand what a stock buyback is, what that is and why it's become controversial.
Yeah. And I can say to one of the letters that I signed on to with a bipartisan letter, frankly, the Ohio senators, my senators in Pennsylvania, I believe, Congressman Johnson, one of the questions we asked of Norfolk Southern was to put in writing what you've spent on stock buybacks versus safety, or r&d and the rest? And the answer is they spend a heck of a lot more enriching their shareholders buying back stock or issuing dividends than they have to make make their operations safer. But I think the most direct and honest answer I can give to I think it was Stephen, who asked the question, why, well, why hasn't Congress taken action here or banned this or curtail this practice of, for companies buying back stock essentially, passing on profits to their shareholders? The most direct answer is because the Republicans control the House representatives and frankly, carry water for the big corporations who have been running this country. That's the reason.
So the next question is about where agency capture comes from. Stephanie asks, Is this? I think she's referring to the to the deregulation. Is this a party issue? Or is this a money in politics issue? In other words, is it counterproductive to attack the other party, rather than looking at the regulatory decisions are really the deregulatory decisions as kind of part and parcel of money going into the entire political system?
I think it might be a little bit of both, you know, I certainly am someone who thinks that the money that flows through the political system is obscene and has the corrupting influence of you mentioned the phrase agency capture, right? Where industry too often dictates terms to the regulators are supposed to be regulating them. It's a real problem. And certainly you see it in Congress and a lot of issues in the rail industry is one where it's a pretty clear history, even in recent years of them lobbying against any measure mean, one that I'll call out in particular, which it seems like DoD will now be implementing is this minimum staffing roll to people mean, they fought that they wanted to have one person on trains, like the one that derailed. I've spoken to rail workers, I've spoken to the union representing the folks who were on this train. And they told me pretty directly Had there been just one worker on this train as the railroads wanted, they would not been able to take the action they took, and this likely would have been worse. So there are real concrete costs to these anti safety, lobbying efforts that this industry and so many others have undertaken. And, frankly, I'm sure we'll undertake here again, as there's real talk about changing the culture and the rail industry.
I want to talk about the legislative response for a second, we have reported tracing all of this back, there was the Trump repeal of the brake rule. There was also before that, and equally important and problematic in my view decision back in the Obama administration, where the NTSB told the Obama administration when it was figuring out new safety rules for hazmat trains, told the Obama administration, you need to make sure these rules cover all sorts of hazardous materials, not just oil and ethanol at the time, that was the debate about crude crude oil trains. And the chemical industry lobbied against it, the Obama administration sided with the chemical lobby, to narrow the definition of what a so called high hazard flammable train is to narrow it so that the train in Ohio that blew up with that huge mushroom cloud 100 foot flames, that was actually not classified as a high hazard flammable train. And I've sort of said, listen, the easiest bill in the world would be simply a one page bill that says, what the NTSB recommended back in 2014 is the law of the land when we define what a hazardous train is, so that all the rules, including the brake rule that Trump repealed, all of those rules should apply to all of these trains. Do you Do you agree with that? And do you think that's something that even in this divided Congress could actually pass?
I think it might be able to, and certainly, you know, I'm going to be working with others. Definitely those who have served on Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on broadening that exact definition. You said the phrase high hazard, flammable train, it matters. And I think with that, trying to improve these right to know laws, right, so that states and local communities know what's coming through. They know how to respond because they're armed with information, God forbid, should something like this happen again. But to really get to your question, like I do think there will be some bipartisan support for something as straightforward as that mean, again, I I'll say something nice about Bill Johnson. I heard him I've heard Governor dewine. Both Republicans talk about expanding that definition. It's common sense. I mean, I think people looking at what just happened, you know, know that this has been a failure. It's been a gap in the law. And it's probably the lowest hanging fruit for us to fix in Congress.
There's always a question that comes up about ownership of the railroads. There's a long history of the obviously the government giving away large swaths of land right of way to these private companies. The trade off has been or at least it was supposed to be that a monopoly or an oligopoly is heavily regulated sort of a utility model. And when this has happened in the past, and now it's happened, again, these kinds of disasters. people question whether that's the right model for something like the rail industry, there's calls for the nationalization of the railroads. It's a question from Thomas. Is there a future in America were these this transportation infrastructure, which is a clear monopoly where the government doesn't just regulate them? The government actually owns a piece of them if this comes up all the time. I just be curious your response to that?
I think we're certainly the pendulum is swinging back away from this deregulatory, you know, Reagan esque idea. We're swinging way away from the that. And in the short term, I think, and I hope we get more sane regulation around railroads to keep us safer. Look at there's a somewhat of a model. It's a very different one, certainly in passenger rail, but Amtrak right Amtrak is, you know, frankly, part of the government in many ways. And so it's not crazy to me that people are talking about not just strengthening the way in which the government regulates rail. But put keeping on the table in the back of mind some some Avenue where this is treated more like a utility. I don't know that there's political support to do it. But I think it's part of the conversation for sure.
Last question for you before I know you have to go. The question about the response to this. The Biden administration, President Biden was silent about this did not say anything for I think it was about two weeks. Separate Secretary of Transportation Pete Buda judge said something I think about a week, a little over a week later, first he came out and sort of said, Listen, I'm constrained. There's not much that I can do independent of Congress. And now he, after a lot of reporting, he has changed his tune and said, saying, you know, I can do things under existing law to start strengthening these rules. Meanwhile, into the vacuum comes Donald Trump, Donald Trump, who has helped aggressively deregulate the rail industry. Why do you think there was such a delay? From the Biden administration in publicly responding to this? Do you think they just thought it would just kind of go away? It would, it would be a one day story and the like, and I'm not asking you to give us you know, what should have been done? But But do you think that has harmed I guess, the situation in the sense of allowing somebody clearly not principle, not honest person, Donald Trump to try to make to try to make an opportunity out of this,
I'll push back a bit. And it's to say this mean, EPA was on the ground immediately, I've been with the administrator who's a cabinet level official on the ground out there twice in the last week or two. And look, to be frank, what my constituents are calling me about is not I want Joe Biden on the ground, it's, I want testing, I want this, I want to have accountable, I want to be safe. And so I just haven't, it hasn't concerned me I haven't frankly spent much brain space worrying about which senior person shows up. And my constituents, frankly, who are really dictating and driving where my head is, they want to just have the resources they want to have the things happening. And everything that my governor, local officials have needed from the federal, federal government they're getting. So you know, a little bit this, to me is the political theater of it, I get it. It matters, leadership matters showing up it matters that I show up as a member of Congress, but I am seeing the response from the federal government and the presence there, notwithstanding, you know, whether the former president is going to show up and throw water bottles around and ignore the fact that he weakened safety in the industry that now is hurt my people.
Congressman Chris deluzy. Oh is a congressman from the 17th District of Pennsylvania, which borders the East Palace, Steen disaster, you can find him on Twitter at rep. deluzy. Leo, thank you for taking time with us today. And please, please keep us informed of what's going on on the ground there and what is going on in Congress as a response to it. Thanks again.
Thank you, David. Thanks for the reporting on all this.
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