U.S. NewsDERAILED: Disaster in East Palestine


Big week ahead as Norfolk Southern CEO will testify before Congress

A Norfolk Southern official is expected to share before lawmakers what they know about the East Palestine derailment.
Posted at 7:20 AM, Mar 06, 2023

After recent derailments, most notably the derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, will laws involving trains in the United States change?

This week will be a big one not just for holding train operators accountable, but also for lawmakers who may try to advance new regulations.

More train questions

The train derailment in East Palestine has our country asking a lot of questions about trains. What is carried on them? How long are they? Are communities prepared for the worst?

Another key question has emerged following this derailment: Will any federal laws change as a result?

Before any legislation gets a vote, high-profile testimony will take place. The CEO of Norfolk Southern, Alan Shaw, is set to testify in front of the Senate's Environment and Public Works Committee on Thursday. Norfolk Southern operated the train that derailed in Ohio.

Shaw is expected to share what he knows about the incident, but he'll also likely be grilled by lawmakers on both sides of the aisle who are frustrated this occurred. Many lawmakers want Norfolk Southern to pay for the cleanup.

Push for legislation

When it comes to legislation that could pass Congress, the Bipartisan Railway Safety Act of 2023 is the proposal that has attracted the most attention. It's backed by Democrat and Republican lawmakers and endorsed by President Biden. The legislation includes new safety requirements, like mandating safer tanker cars over the next two years. It imposes new procedures for trains carrying hazardous materials. It would also allow for greater fines for safety violations and require operators to improve disaster plans. It would also make railroads do a better job of informing states about hazardous materials when they roll through those states.

There is a question mark, however, over whether this legislation could pass the House, which is controlled by Republicans. Republican House leadership has historically been cautious about government interference in private business.

Other pieces of legislation are also being considered in Washington as well. Republicans in the House want citizens impacted by the derailment to receive tax relief for any aid they've received. There are also active discussions regarding whether any financial payments should be given to the roughly 5,000 or so affected citizens of East Palestine.