According to a Harvard CAPS/Harris poll, more voters are dissatisfied with the response of Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg to an Ohio train accident that left a small town exposed to toxic chemicals in February.
On February 3, a Norfolk Southern train was derailment in East Palestine, Ohio. A controlled burn on February 6 to relieve pressure inside the cars, released toxic chemicals, including vinyl chloride, into the atmosphere. Buttigieg was criticized for failing to respond to the train derailment within ten days and not visiting the site of the accident until three weeks later.
According to poll results, 31% of respondents said Buttigieg’s response was “poor” and 30% said it was “fair.” However, 29% of polled voters thought the response was “good,” while only 9% believed it to be “excellent.”
A majority of voters blame Norfolk Southern, 22% blame the Department of Transportation. The majority of voters dissatisfied with President Joe Biden’s response to the derailment, 61% saying that he should’ve visited the site “right away”.
Biden stated to reporters that he would visit East Palestine on March 2. However, White House officials later reneged on that promise and told NBC News that there was no scheduled trip. Only 39% of polled voters said that a Biden trip to the site of the derailment is necessary.
Biden was also subject to criticism for his trip to Kviv (Ukraine) in the same week as Trump’s visit to East Palestine. According to the Daily Caller News Foundation, residents did not find the President’s agenda surprising.
“The federal government, Biden has not recognized East Palestine,” William Hugar, an East Palestine resident previously told DCNF. “The first week it happened, Biden was too busy popping Chinese balls.”
A majority of voters agree that the federal government isn’t doing enough to regulate toxic chemicals’ transit and disposal. They also believe that Norfolk Southern hasn’t given enough money to the community since the accident.
Norfolk Southern provides details about its financial support via its “Making it Right In East Palestine” webpage. It reimbursed $3 million to the local fire station for the equipment used in the response, and supported local schools and businesses.
Republican Ohio Senator JD Vance and Democratic Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown proposed a bipartisan bill to make several reforms that aim to prevent future train derailments. The bill would require train companies and other transport companies to inform local officials about toxic chemicals being transported through their communities. It also creates an emergency response plan.
Between March 22 and 23, Harris Poll and Harris X surveyed 2,905 registered voters. This survey was done online in the United States.