Secretary of Transportation Pete Buttigieg admitted Tuesday he “could have spoken out sooner” about the disastrous train derailment in Ohio.
Buttigieg and the government in general were heavily criticized after a train derailment and the controlled burn to prevent an explosion caused toxic chemicals to pollute East Palestine, Ohio, and the surrounding region. The transportation secretary himself only addressed the disaster 10 days after the train crashed.
Buttigieg spoke to Nexstar’s Washington correspondent Reshad Hudson about the Transportation Department’s response.
“What’s your message to people who are concerned that the department was late to speak out on this issue?” Hudson asked Buttigieg. “They’re saying that transportation and EPA was late to the game in speaking out and responding to the situation in East Palestine.”
OHIO TRAIN DERAILMENT ADDS TO BUTTIGIEG’S GROWING LIST OF SLOW RESPONSES, AFTER HE WAITED 10 DAYS TO ADDRESS
Buttigieg defended his department, but allowed that he “could have” been too slow to respond to the incident as the nation sought an explanation from government representatives.
“Well, to be clear, our department was on the ground within hours helping with the response and the investigation. Again, I respect the separate role of NTSB, but we have been on the ground literally from day one to make sure that we’re doing our part to support,” he said. “I do think that it’s important to speak out about that, and I could have spoken out sooner, and I’m making sure that we are focused on the actions that are going to make a difference.”
Some political commentators hit Buttigieg for how long he waited to speak out about the incident, even spending time talking about the lack of diversity among construction workers before finally addressing the issue 10 days after the derailment.
BUTTIGIEG BATTERED BY CRISES IN FIRST TWO YEARS AS TRANSPORTATION SECRETARY: ‘PRIME EXAMPLE OF FAILING UP’
Buttigieg faced more criticism last week for his interview with Yahoo! Finance Live, where some say he downplayed the incident altogether.
“Look, rail safety is something that has evolved a lot over the years, but there’s clearly more that needs to be done because while this horrible situation has gotten a particularly high amount of attention, there are roughly 1,000 cases a year of a train derailing,” he said.
CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP
He added further in the same interview, “Obviously, they have levels of severity, but where all of that points us to is a need to continue to raise the bar on rail safety. And that’s especially true when it comes to rail that involves hazardous materials.”
That came after Buttigieg had blamed the Trump administration for his agency being “constrained by law on some areas of rail regulation.”