Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg is too busy taking walks to address the unfurling environmental and health crises caused by a train derailment and subsequent hazardous chemical burn in Ohio earlier this month.
At least, that’s what he told the Daily Caller’s Jennie Taer when asked if he had anything to say to the people in East Palestine, Ohio, who are “suffering right now” after a train carrying toxic chemicals veered off the tracks. The train cars were later deliberately set ablaze, which disseminated a noxious plume of black smoke that was spotted from miles away.
“Well, I would refer you to about a dozen interviews I’ve given today. And if you’d like to arrange a conversation, make sure to reach out to our press office. I’m not going to have that conversation just walking down the street here,” Buttigieg said.
After Taer once again pressed Buttigieg to offer a message to Ohioans, the former mayor of South Bend, Indiana, made it clear he was not interested in addressing crises that fall under his jurisdiction while off the clock.
“I’m going to refer you to the comments that I made to the press because right now I’m taking some personal time and I’m walking down the street,” Buttigieg insisted.
What Buttigieg didn’t mention in the brief sidewalk conversation, however, is that he didn’t speak up about the calamity until nearly three weeks after the initial derailment. By then, residents all over Ohio had complained of contaminated air and water sparking sickness that rapidly spread through their families, friends, and pets, and killed the surrounding wildlife.
In his first public comments since the Feb. 3 disaster, Buttigieg admitted on Monday that he “could have spoken out sooner.” Yet he still failed to share specific plans on how he will help the locals affected by the derailment or when he will visit the site of the transportation calamity.
“I am very interested in getting to know the residents of East Palestine, hearing from them about how they’ve been impacted and communicating with them about the steps that we’re taking,” Buttigieg said on a conference call with the press. “When the time is right, I do plan to visit East Palestine. I don’t have a date for you right now.”
Despite repeated calls from Ohioans and the mayor of East Palenstine for the transportation secretary to visit the afflicted site and address residents’ ongoing concerns, Buttigieg once again confirmed on Tuesday that he has not set a date for a trip.
“Are you going down there at all?” Taer asked during their exchange.
“Yep, I am,” Buttigieg replied.
“When are you going?” Taer pressed.
“I’ll share that when I’m ready,” Buttigieg said.
Train derailments in Ohio and other states are just one of the many scandals plaguing the cabinet member, who seemingly got the job under Biden’s affirmative-action hiring model based on his sexual preferences, not his transportation experience.
During the peak of the nation’s supply-chain woes in the fall of 2021 and negotiations over a trillion-dollar infrastructure package, Buttigieg was nowhere to be found. Instead of taking any responsibility to respond to the crises that fall under his job title, Buttigeg ducked important calls and meetings, using his eight-week-long paternity leave as an excuse. When the taxpayers who fund his salary complained about his prolonged absence, Buttigieg and his husband Chasten called it “old news” and characterized the criticism as unfair.