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Do Trains Need Adequate Brakes & Enough People to Run Them?

It's Time to Further Regulate Railways

It’s been nearly three weeks since a 150-car freight train owned by Norfolk Southern, derailed near East Palestine, Ohio, spilling toxic chemicals into the air and waterways. The immediate aftermath has been a mixture of horrifying and expected: residents reporting headaches, nausea, burning eyes and sore throats. Land despoiled, odd colors and smells on the air and water, dead fish, and fowl by the thousands. It’s events like these that illustrate the high stakes of government corruption through corporate capture, that #DSOT fights each week. ​​It's one of those classic tales in American politics where there are no heroes. From Republican Governor Mike DeWine who failed to "see any problems" and ask for FEMA Aid for 2 weeks after the train derailment, to Norfolk Southern who spent billions on stock buybacks, millions on lobbying efforts to prevent increased safety regulations, like the electronic braking system which could have prevented this disaster, and merely thousands on making the residents of East Palestine whole. In America, corruption doesn’t stop with party affiliation, and the Democrats should not be let off the hook either. Transportation Secretary Buttigieg has shown through his milquetoast regulatory efforts before and pathetic response after the crash, that as a former McKenzie consultant he is either unwilling to act, or entirely sympathetic to the railway companies. Instead of preposterously urging companies to do the right thing, he need to step up and use his authority to regulate! As we continue to sift through the wreckage and tally the damages, it’s hard not to think back to the rail worker union contract negotiations last year, where workers were requesting time off and better safety measures. “Pro-union” Biden stepped in on behalf of the rail companies to head off an impending strike and “protect the economy.” While those exact negotiations may not have prevented this train derailment, there is nonetheless a clear line between this disaster the dynamic emphasized in last years contract fight. Fundamentally, this train crash is about whether or not companies get to decide the parameters of our Public Safety or whether that is part of the government's job in promoting the general welfare and providing for the common defense of our citizens from dangers like chemical poisoning and bomb trains. Whatever specific regulations and remediation need to happen solving the derailment in East Palestine, the more general problem is one of regulatory capture, where our government serves industry instead of its citizens. If East Palestine were an anomaly, perhaps the argument might be made that regulations to the rail industry would be onerous. But the fact is, we know that this is merely one of hundreds of train derailments across the country, many of which never even make the news. Until our government begins valuing human lives over corporate profits we will continue to not just see disasters like these trained derailments and the water poisonings in Flint Michigan. As long as running unsafe trains is cheaper than the cost of disaster cleanup for a rail company, the corporations who would sacrifice our health and environment for their wealth will continue this activity. It's not about what's right it's about what makes the most money. To change this system and protect our citizens from man-made disasters in their backyards, it will take more than just political power it will take economic power, so join us each Tuesday in growing solidarity as we work to make sure it doesn’t pay to bomb and American town. #DSOT #UPM

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