Celebrities, Electric Buses and Farm Equipment Demonstrations Took Priority Over East Palestine Disaster for EPA Administrator

Calendar records show that Administrator Regan appeared to act as if it was business as usual amidst the environmental emergency in East Palestine.

(Washington, DC) – Today, the Functional Government Initiative (FGI) announced an update in its ongoing investigation into the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) initial response to the toxic spill from the train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio. Records obtained through FGI’s Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request reveal that EPA Administrator Michael Regan was tending to other, seemingly mundane, issues across the country in the more than two weeks it took for him to visit the crash site.

The February 3, 2023, train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, resulted in the release of hazardous materials, threatening local residents. Though the EPA started monitoring air quality in the surrounding area the day of the disaster, and regional authorities soon began monitoring nearby water quality, local responders became overwhelmed. The focus of the EPA’s leader during this time appeared to have been elsewhere.

According to records obtained from FGI’s request to the EPA, in the days immediately after the disaster, Regan appears to have had no meetings involving anyone dealing with the crisis. In fact, February 4 and 5 were a weekend. His schedule was entirely clear, and Regan could have used those days to personally assess the situation in East Palestine, as one might expect of a cabinet-level official faced with an emergency. On February 8, Regan traveled to Kansas, to visit a high school and talk about electric school buses. The next day, he remained in Kansas, visiting local farms and participating in farm equipment demonstrations. Following this visit, he then traveled to North Carolina for a couple of days, ironically touring a water treatment plant, while the water in East Palestine was potentially contaminated.

It wasn’t until February 16, 13 days after the derailment, when Regan finally visited East Palestine. Strangely enough, before his trip and again soon after it, the records reveal Administrator Regan found the time for calls with actor Idris Elba and his wife. They were likely discussing plans for the couple to join Regan on travel to sub-Saharan Africa, as reported at the time.

Peter McGinnis, spokesman for FGI, issued the following statement:

“Why did it appear to take so long for Administrator Regan to prioritize the disaster in East Palestine? Electric buses, farm equipment, and North Carolina water treatment were routine press events. He even found time to talk with a Hollywood actor, likely to discuss foreign travel. This sort of irresponsibility seems to be a congenital problem in the Biden administration. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg disappeared for more than a month during the 2021 supply chain crisis, and just this month Defense Secretary Austin and his team didn’t bother to tell the president or even Austin’s next-in-line that he was hospitalized and in intensive care. Connect these dysfunctional dots and it’s hard not to see a pattern of irresponsibility in President Biden’s cabinet.”

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