It shouldn’t take a train derailment for elected officials to put partisanship aside and work together for the people we serve and not corporations like Norfolk Southern.
Railroad company lobbyists have spent years fighting against every effort to make our trains and rail lines safer. Now towns like East Palestine, Sandusky, Steubenville, and Springfield are paying the price.
That is why this week I introduced bipartisan legislation with Ohio’s new senator, Sen. Vance, to make trains safer as they go through communities like East Palestine and Springfield.
We want to do everything in our power to make sure accidents like these never happen again. Our bill includes new safety requirements for trains that carry hazardous materials, new rules to prevent wheel bearing failures which are the number one mechanical cause of derailments, a two-person work crew requirement on every train, and raising fines on companies when accidents happen.
Right now, fines don’t make a dent in the profits of these big corporations – they are just the cost of doing business and we have seen what happens as a result – dangerous derailments. As Norfolk Southern’s profits have gone up, accidents have gone up.
These big corporations don’t care about communities and the damage they do, as long as they bring in billions in stock buybacks to reward their executives.
Over the past month, I have been to East Palestine multiple times to talk with residents from the mayor to the fire chief to business owners and parents. I have heard their fears about what this means for their town and their futures.
This is the kind of community that is too often forgotten or exploited by corporate America. That is why I will work with anyone to fight for these communities and get reforms passed.
Sen. Vance and I come from different parties but this week we came together for the people of Ohio. That is what we did again and again over the years with former Sen. Portman. By finding agreement wherever we could, we passed the strongest Buy America laws ever, we strengthened our trade enforcement laws to protect Ohio workers and businesses, and we expanded access to treatment for opioid addiction.
I am hopeful that we can continue that strong bipartisan Ohio tradition, starting with these commonsense reforms to prevent other Ohio communities from facing another disaster.
Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) represents the state in the U.S. Senate.