Pete Buttigieg Pressed On Why It Took Him Weeks To Visit East Palestine But Only Days To Survey I-95 Collapse
Department of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg was pressed Tuesday by a reporter on why he visited the I-95 collapse site so quickly compared to his delay in visiting the train derailment site in East Palestine, Ohio.
It took Buttigieg about two weeks to go to East Palestine to the site of a chemical spill after a train derailment on Feb. 3 and only took a couple of days to travel to Philadelphia to see the I-95 collapse site. A tanker truck caught fire, leading to a partial collapse of the major interstate June 11.
“When I went, I decided to break from the precedent, the norm that generally transportation secretaries don’t go to active response sites. But, part of what I found was important, especially when you saw all of the politicization and misinformation that the people of East Palestine had to deal with, is that we’re just in a new world in terms of the importance of presence to help make sure everyone understands what’s happening, the coordination that’s happening, the teamwork that’s happening,” Buttigieg said.
“And so the same way that I value the ongoing conversation that I have with people that I spend time with on the ground in East Palestine, I value the opportunity to be both on the ground and coordinating over the phone with everybody who’s involved in the response here,” Buttigieg said.
The accident occurred when a tanker truck caught fire under an overpass, causing a section of the highway to collapse onto the truck.
Buttigieg has faced criticism for his handling of the East Palestine chemical spill, the FAA’s largest grounding of domestic flights since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks and major supply chain delays.
This reporter confronted Buttigieg in Washington, D.C. weeks after the train derailment in East Palestine, where he had yet to visit. At the time, he said he was taking “personal time” and couldn’t give a message to the residents of the area.