Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., is calling for Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg's "immediate resignation" in the wake of the Feb. 3 train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, that left the village's residents in fear for their lives and property after the release of toxic chemicals in the region.
"For two years, the transparency and accountability that you promised to obsessively uphold during your inauguration has been nowhere to be found," the Florida Republican wrote in a letter to President Joe Biden, reports Florida Politics Friday. "The incompetence and failure within your administration cannot continue to be ignored when Americans' health and safety are at risk."
And Buttigieg, Rubio wrote, has "downplayed crisis after crisis while prioritizing topics of little relevance to our nation's transportation system … he continues to deflect any accountability for the safety of our nation's rail system. This is part of a two-year-long pattern."
Buttigieg has acknowledged the Norfolk Southern derailment but has continued to come under fire for his lack of response to the accident, including when on Monday, rather than addressing the accident, he spoke out about the lack of diversity hiring in the construction industry.
Buttigieg has not visited the site of the derailment, where a controlled burn was forced two days after the crash, releasing vinyl chloride and other chemicals into the air and local waterways.
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine told Newsmax Friday that the EPA has determined the East Palestine municipal water supply has been tested and determined safe to drink, but village residents and people in surrounding communities continue to worry about the aftermath of the crash.
Residents are back in their homes after being forced to evacuate.
Buttigieg claimed Tuesday that his department is "constrained by law on some areas of rail regulation," while referring to a braking rule former President Donald Trump's administration pulled back in 2018.
However, other federal agencies have been in the village and are investigating the derailment, including EPA Administrator Michael Regan.
Rubio and Sen. J.D. Vance, R-Ohio, also wrote to Buttigieg Wednesday to seek information about how his department oversees the national freight system.
Buttigieg also came under fire just before Christmas, when a Federal Aviation Authority computer malfunction shut down domestic air travel, and have criticized him for traveling too often on private airplanes.
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