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'Can't be blamed': Washington Post fact-check dismantles narrative blaming Trump for East Palestine disaster
NTSB/Handout via Xinhua

'Can't be blamed': Washington Post fact-check dismantles narrative blaming Trump for East Palestine disaster

The Washington Post explained Monday why former President Donald Trump "can't be blamed" for the East Palestine disaster.

As the heat was turned up on President Joe Biden for his response to the train derailment, the Biden administration and Democrats began blaming Trump for the disaster. They say his administration is responsible for rolling back important regulations that would have, at the very least, mitigated the environmental impact of the train derailment or prevented it altogether.

But Glenn Kessler, the Washington Post's chief fact-checker, says that narrative is completely false.

What did WaPo say?

Kessler published a fact-check on Monday titled, "So far, Trump’s rollback of regulations can’t be blamed for Ohio train wreck," analyzing the different regulations that Biden's defenders say make Trump responsible for East Palestine.

"From our analysis, none of the regulatory changes made during the Trump administration at this point can be cited as contributing to the accident," Kessler wrote.

Specifically, Kessler analyzed five regulation changes made under Trump: the revocation of a rule on electronically controlled pneumatic brakes, a rule that decreased brake inspections, a withdrawn proposal mandating at least two crew members on every train, a revised safety inspection rule for railroad tracks, and the deregulation of ethylene oxide.

Kessler explained:

  • ECP brakes: Despite citing one expert who speculated about the effectiveness of ECP brakes, Kessler cited NSTB chairwoman Jennifer Homendy, who has unequivocally declared that the ECP brake regulation would not have applied to the Norfolk Southern train that derailed in East Palestine.
  • Brake inspections: "There is no determination yet that the braking system played a role in the accident." In fact, a preliminary NTSB report blamed an overheated wheel bearing.
  • Two-member crew mandate: The derailed train had three crew members on board. "The 149-car train that derailed had two crew members plus a trainee on board."
  • Track inspections: The track was inspected and found to have no problems. "The NTSB inspected the tracks, and the preliminary report makes no mention of any problems."
  • Ethylene oxide: Proposed regulations not adopted by the Trump administration would not have applied in this case. "The rule concerned emissions by chemical plants, not the synthetic chemical released in the accident," Kessler explained.

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