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White House Dismisses 'Bad Faith Attacks' on Secretary Buttigieg Over East Palestine Response

The White House has dismissed concerns about Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg’s handling of the train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, as “bad faith attacks.”

There have been significant questions about the safety of the air and water in the town after a train carrying hazardous materials derailed on February 3.

White House Press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre defended the transportation secretary during the press briefing on Thursday, saying that questions about Buttigieg’s competence are just “pure politics.”

“There’s been a lot of bad faith attacks on Secretary Buttigieg,” Jean-Pierre said during the briefing. “And the reason why we believe it’s bad faith is if you remember, Elaine Chao … she was the head of the Department of Transportation, and when there was these types of chemical spills, nobody was calling for her to be fired.”

“Nobody was calling for what they’re calling for Secretary Pete,” Jean-Pierre continued. “It is pure politics, it is pure political stunts what they’re doing.”

Buttigieg did not visit East Palestine until Thursday, 20 days after the train carrying the hazardous materials derailed.

The White House defended Buttigieg by noting that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and FEMA officials have been on the ground for weeks.

According to a report from The Hill, a Transportation Department spokesperson said Wednesday that Buttigieg’s visit was timed for after the EPA moved out of the “emergency response phase.”

“The Department of Transportation will continue to do its part by helping get to the bottom of what caused the derailment and implementing rail safety measures, and we hope this sudden bipartisan support for rail safety will result in meaningful changes in Congress,” the spokesperson said.

On Friday, the Ohio EPA released their final testing results, saying “that there is no indication of risk to East Palestine Public Water customers.”

“Treated drinking water shows no detection of contaminants associated with the derailment,” the agency said.

Politicians, including Ohio Lt. Governor Jon Husted, started drinking the tap water in East Palestine on camera over the weekend to “prove” that it is safe.

Many have remained skeptical as the Ohio Department of Natural Resources has estimated that at least 3,500 fish, primarily minnows and darters, have been found dead spanning over seven miles of streams.

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