Paul Revere by Cyrus Dallin, North End, Boston



Thursday, February 16, 2023

The Ohio Train Disaster

Melanie D'Arrigo
Never forget how we got here: In 2018, the Association of American Railroads spent $4,737,989, and Norfolk Southern spent $1,025,330, lobbying to reverse the Obama-era ECP brake safety rule that was designed to prevent disasters like this.  

The Trump administration reversed it. 

Speaking to investigative news outlet The Lever, Steven Ditmeyer, a former top official at the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), said the "severity" of the accident was likely increased by the lack of Electronically Controlled Pneumatic (ECP) brakes. 

 A rule was passed under President Barack Obama that made it a requirement for trains carrying hazardous flammable materials to have ECP brakes, but this was rescinded in 2017 by the Trump administration. The industry said it would cost more than $3 billion to implement. 

The FRA under Obama said it would be around half a billion. The National Transportation Safety Board, a federal agency responsible for investigating rail accidents, told The Lever that the Ohio train that derailed was not fitted with ECP brakes. 

 "Would ECP brakes have reduced the severity of this accident? Yes," Ditmeyer said. Referring to opposition from within the rail industry to fitting ECP brakes, he added: "The railroads will test new features. But once they are told they have to do it ... they don't want to spend the money."


Can President Biden reinstate rules that a prior administration rolled back? 

From what I've been able to research, every aspect of rulemaking is designed to favor the groups being regulated, and one of the things the government can never do is reinstate a rule it previously rescinded just because we changed our minds. 


possumlady said...

This was such a preventable tragedy. I'm sending a link about the lack of information about the hazardous materials and testing in the area. The article quotes Erik Olson and Gerry Poje, both whom I worked closely with at the National Wildlife Federation in the late 1980s. Both worked tirelessly to help advance safe drinking water (Erik) and trying to prevent hazardous material disasters like the current one in Ohio (Gerry).

Grey One talks sass said...

Good morning Shaw.

I am reminded in this post that for every rule/law We The People pass (in whatever setting aka local, state, or federal) there had to be at least one human who said "what could it hurt?" before finding out their actions could indeed hurt.

I've been watching the Twitterverse and associated Tik Tok posts about how the modern Robber Barons are handling this disaster. From the unintended release of hydrochloric acid (I may have the name wrong - chemistry is not my strength) into the atmosphere to telling residents their homes are safe (narrators voice: in fact their homes were not safe) those responsible for this disaster are dancing faster than an Irish step dancer in a St Patrick's day parade. In fact they are dancing so fast they missed the town hall intended to answer residents questions.

While this specific event is unique the greed and corruption which lead to here/now is a tale as old as time.

We The People defeated the Robber Barons once, We can do it again only this time add provisions so industry giants are forbidden from participating in the congress critter to lobbyist pipeline. And add increased due diligence to anyone who wants to reverse whatever protections are put in place. The next admin shouldn't be able to undo protections put in place for the greater good just because they didn't like the last admins people.

skudrunner said...

Of course it is all trumps fault but what isn't or maybe it was caused by our elected elite being bought by lobbyists who one former president who was going to eliminate. They provide nothing to the American taxpayer and are only there to enrich our corrupt politicians.

Now that this disaster has occurred which is tragic, where's mayor pete?

Anonymous said...

That does not make sense. If we cannot reinstate a rule, then just make a new rule.

Dave Dubya said...

And of course, the Right makes the mess and blames democrats for not cleaning it up fast enough.

Les Carpenter said...

The "genius" of tRump and the republicans is truly frightening. As Yogi B. said, it ain't over until the fat lady sings. That likely won't happen any time soon.

Lisa said...

Like Katrina ?

skudrunner said...

Dube, How did the right cause a train derailment in a small town in Ohio? That is like saying the right opened the border and now blames the left. Who leads the country and what group doesn't go to ohio or the border. I guess we should blame -H- because if she hadn't run we wouldn't have trump and if he didn't win we wouldn't have joey b so the circle is unbroken and the ones in the middle are getting really dizzy.

Grey One talks sass said...

Thank you Shaw for the update on the train issue in your latest post. I knew I got the chemical name wrong.

As we know more we see how horrible it truly is and how unprepared the GQP is to respond to any kind of emergency. Truthfully all the disaster movies should have prepared us - those GQP types who are in charge refuse to accept there might be something someone knows more than they do which results in explosions killing them, citizens, and critters. Can we please jump to the end where Bruce Willis rides in to save the day? (Metaphorically speaking of course. Mr Willis's health issues are in my heart as I've too many lost to the umbrella of dementia)

skud, Shaw told you exactly how the GQP made sure this derailment would happen. Your fellow commentators told you who was responsible. They have the receipts as the kids like to say (aka evidence) something you refuse to submit or believe in.

As for your snide border comment, you keep saying the numbers prove the border is open. I don't think reported encounters with migrants means what you think it means. The fact that those trying to come into the country are counted and reported up the food chain is proof the border is working. It's the same with the reports of drugs seized. If they were seized then they didn't get into the country to be distributed. Honestly SOME people could do with an education on critical thinking skills.

Can everything in the country be better? Of course. As with all things anything can be better. Is it the best We The People can do for the here/now? Yep.

Unless you have some receipts you'd like to share skud, I believe I like many folks here see through your woe is me story. Try again. As for you being in the middle. OH my, you made me laugh so hard I woke up the dog. Nice one skud. Thanks.

Dave Dubya said...

Which side do YOU think the OWNERS are on?? You think they are leftists?
Did you even read what Shaw posted? Sometimes I think you just ignore it because you don't want facts.

The Prophet Dervish Z Sanders said...

The proof that tRumpers are causing the train wrecks and crashes is showing up in front of us. Ohio Governor DeWhiner turned down all aid that the White House was ready to offer. That power drunk governor of theirs only wants any glory for himself and refuses to allow the Feds to offer any aid to those in the affected areas of Ohio. And since it happened in a border town to Pennsylvania, that psychopath wants the poison to spread across state borders and kill innocent people, in hopes it will make our best President ever Joe Biden look bad. And homophobe DeWhiner hates the idea of a "gay transportation secretary" helping the "lowly peasants" such as the Amish in a serious time of need. That psychopath Governor and his family need to go to prison for murder and terrorist acts. I mentioned his family because his family by not speaking out is aiding and abetting his criminal acts.

Dave Dubya said...

More for Skud to ignore:

“Since DeWine took office, Norfolk Southern has given him and other Ohio lawmakers $73,000 and successfully killed bipartisan railway safety legislation that would have helped protect railroad workers and the communities their trains passed through.”

Norfolk Southern advocated against railway safety measures at Ohio statehouse, cut campaign checks.

skudrunner said...

Grey, How is it that the administration is democrat but it is the GQP doesn't know how to respond to an emergency. I was under the belief that the administration are democrats and so is the head of transportation depart is a democrat. How long has it taken for anyone in the administration to go to Ohio. Took them a couple of years to go close to the border but I am not sure Palestine should have to wait that long for assistance. Appears the government has turned the entire situation over to the company to fix. I would rather see some competence from our elected elite instead of just trying to place on someone else.

Just like the border. If you lived close you may have a different opinion as to the influx of illegals both those who cross legally and those who bolt

Grey One talks sass said...

skud, take a breath. Now take another. These are complicated issues so I'll do my best to speak as plainly as possible. Shaw and other commentator have already said this but maybe my perspective will reach you.

1. The Feds are not allowed to enter into a State issue without express invitation by the affected States Governor. If the Feds had overstepped the boundaries you (and the rest of us quite honestly) would be calling out the over-reach no matter how well intentioned.

2. Ohio is GQP country. The Gov of Ohio was bought and paid for by the Robber Baron company responsible for the derailment. It took Gov DeWine over two weeks to ask FEMA for assistance. Why was that skud? Why do you not condemn Gov DeWine's lack of a plan?

3. skud, you constantly bleat the Feds have no rights to interfere with the workings of private companies so now you are in favor of the Feds rushing in without an invitation? As you've said to me before rules are rules but I guess that can be amended to rules for thee but not for me, amirite?

4. I stand by my fact finding that Gov DeWine could have taken immediate action to protect their constituents but didn't because his personal power and donors keeping him in that power were more important. How are you ignoring these facts skud? Gov DeWine took over fourteen days to ask for help and yet you blame the Democratic President and Secretary of Transportation? Feels like you've over indulged in propaganda.

5. I live adjacent to the border, meaning we get the overflow and yet I still maintain the attitude I do. Perhaps your frustration and disregard for facts is just you and your bigotry against people who are different from you.

Anecdote time: at a niece's graduation from high school family lunch a family friend's boyfriend from Tennessee commented on all the "illegals" getting a free education from Uncle Sam. He assumed because so many students had Hispanic last names they weren't citizens themselves or the children of citizens. We explained to him in no uncertain terms that until recently (geologically speaking) the whole area was in fact part of Mexico so yeah, there are many people with Hispanic last names. When the border changed they became citizens of the USA. She broke up with him shortly after this event. We don't tolerate bigots in our midst.

When I was growing up I participated in a school program called Mulligan Stew. It taught me each culture which immigrated to the USA brought their unique flavor which contributed to the greater whole. Our stew is richer for the diversity. Lack of diversity means no spice, no flavor, no nutrition.

Wish you could see the world from my point of view but I know your bubble won't allow such deviation. Shunning is indeed a real and horrible thing.

Les Carpenter said...

As you so elequently stated Grey One talks sass, cultural diversity is a positive and therefore good thing. It makes a culture and nation stronger when all members of the culture work together for the benefit of all. Often refered to as the General Wefare.

Unfortunately the heightened sense of self, your own tribe, and fierce individualism in the USA has resulted in the social, political, and economic disparities that we see every day in America. Othering, or shunning others has become common practice with those who do not understand a changing world.

They fear the changes they see and therefore attempt in whatever way they can to reify that which they are comfortable with and stop (avoid) that which they don't understand. I know this for a fact becaude that was me three or four years ago. I suppose fighting old reified habits can become a life long pursuit. Especially when the reifications extends over 66 years.

The USA could stand to benefit immeasurably if, in a broad expansive way, it studied the spiritual, insight, and wisdom traditions of the ancient masters of India and Tibet.

skud prefers the reification of the principles of government and social structures that lay at the root of many of our problems.