Mayor Trent Conaway of East Palestine has openly criticized President Joe Biden for his delayed response to a catastrophic train derailment that occurred in the town a year ago.
Conaway’s remarks come as the White House announces Biden’s planned visit to East Palestine in February. However, Conaway suggests that the visit should be rescheduled for February 2025, sarcastically referring to it as being during Biden’s book tour.
On February 3, 2023, East Palestine experienced a nightmare when a Norfolk Southern train derailed, releasing a massive toxic cloud over the small town. Several of the derailed cars contained vinyl chloride, a known carcinogen.
As a result, authorities decided to burn the chemicals which led to an enormous explosion and lingering toxic plume.
Former President Donald Trump swiftly visited East Palestine after the incident and was widely appreciated by the local community. Trump provided water, goods, and food to residents while Biden was in Ukraine providing military aid to Zelensky.
In contrast, Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg’s later visit was criticized as an attempt by the Biden administration to address the crisis belatedly.
Mayor Conaway expressed his frustration with Biden’s handling of the situation in recent statements to Fox News. He suggested that now, almost one year later, would be an inappropriate and ineffective time for Biden’s visit.
Many perceive his suggestion of February 2025 as a direct criticism of Biden’s lack of action on this issue.
“I wrote a letter to him, him about a month ago saying that I think he needed to come. And I was gracious in the letter. I think he needs to see what’s going on here,” Conaway said.
“Do you still stand by that comment about the book tour?” asked Fox Business reporter Kelly Saberi.
“I 100% stand by the comment about the book tour. I think that’s the best time for Joe Biden to come. I think the best time for him to come would have been whenever this happened,” Conaway said.
Many people share Conaway’s frustration as they highlight Biden’s frequent vacations over the past year, raising questions about why a trip to East Palestine couldn’t have been scheduled earlier.
The criticisms were addressed by Karine Jean-Pierre, the White House Press Secretary.
When White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was questioned about whether Biden would demonstrate the safety of the local water by drinking it during his visit, she declined to engage in specifics, stating, “This is not about some sort of political stunt here…this is about this president being a president for everyone and showing up for this community.”