The Ohio Train Disaster: We Must Protect Human Life and the Planet from Corporate Greed
The East Palestine Ohio Train Catastrophe is an All-Too-Familiar Cautionary Tale
Corporations and their political allies don’t give a damn about working-class lives and communities. They oppose any protections that interfere with their profits. The only way to defeat them is to build a political movement 100% committed to the people and the planet.
The results of the East Palestine Ohio train wreck are an unmitigated tragedy: poisoned air, land, and water; shattered communities; devastated lives. And it never should have happened.
Railroad unions and workers have been calling for greater safety measures for years—most relevantly in this case, for upgraded braking systems on trains carrying toxic chemicals. President Obama heeded their call and took Executive Action in 2015, but President Trump fulfilled the wishes of the railroad companies and annulled the Executive Order in 2017. After the 2020 election, unions pressed the Biden Administration to renew Obama’s Executive Order to no avail.
When asked if the better braking technology would have reduced the severity of the Ohio accident, Steven Ditmeyer, a former senior official at the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), said, “Yes.”’ (The Lever, Feb. 10, 2023, “There Will Be More Derailments”).
Politically, the lesson here is simple. As progressives, we have to insist that all the politicians we endorse prioritize the lives of poor and working-class people, their communities, and their surrounding environment. This means standing up to and opposing all corporate lobbying that tries to weaken and eliminate regulations. No exceptions. Full stop.
Thanks so much for anything you can do.
Alan Minsky for the PDA National Team