Before recent interest in train safety, Marco Rubio wanted DOT to loosen rail inspection rules
Same product, new packaging: Marco Rubio warns of a rebranded Disinformation Governance Board.

rubio
He has recently blasted Pete Buttigieg over administration response to an Ohio derailment.

Before U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio demanded Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg’s resignation for a train derailment, he joined calls for looser regulations.

The Miami Republican was among 22 Senators who signed onto a letter requesting the Federal Railroad Administration to waive testing and allow more automation. Indeed, the October 2021 letter appears to be the last communication Rubio appears to have sent to the Department of Transportation about rail safety before a major train derailment on Feb. 3 in East Palestine, Ohio.

Rubio’s office challenged the characterization of the 2021 letter as seeking a loosening in regulations. Rather, it said the FRA has procedures in place allowing testing of automated systems to go forward, and senators wanted an explanation why those procedures were not being followed.

The calamitous train wreck, which prompted evacuation of residents days after the crash as officials conducted a controlled release of chemicals, has drawn heavy criticism of Buttigieg and President Joe Biden’s administration.

Rubio’s criticism has been especially strong.

The Senator in a letter to Biden said Buttigieg “repeatedly demonstrated a gross level of incompetence and apathy that is detrimental to the safety and prosperity of the American people.” He said negligence regarding the Ohio derailment follows a two-year pattern.

Notably, Rubio was among 13 Senators in 2021 to vote against confirming Buttigieg.

But those close to Buttigieg scoffed a little at Rubio’s sudden interest in rail safety. That’s a different angle than Rubio endorsed when he co-signed a letter from GOP Sens. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee and Roger Wicker of Mississippi.

The letter supported a priority of the railroad industry, specifically the broader use of automated track inspection.

“These automated systems are changing the nature of track inspection,” the letter reads. “An automated approach involves gathering massive amounts of data and analyzing it for patterns and warning signs, empowering a shift from reactive to preventative track maintenance practices. These automated test systems improve the nature of railroad track inspections and can increase track safety.”

Notably, the Federal Railroad Administration has not allowed such automated inspections to replace physical inspections because they still fail to detect many structural defects. Testing by the DOT confirmed the need to continue more human visual inspections. Companies may use automated inspections, but not in lieu of individual inspectors.

An investigation into what caused the Ohio train derailment is still underway, but early indications are that a wheel bearing on a rail car was faulty, NPR reported. Further investigation findings should be published within two weeks.

Jacob Ogles

Jacob Ogles has covered politics in Florida since 2000 for regional outlets including SRQ Magazine in Sarasota, The News-Press in Fort Myers and The Daily Commercial in Leesburg. His work has appeared nationally in The Advocate, Wired and other publications. Events like SRQ’s Where The Votes Are workshops made Ogles one of Southwest Florida’s most respected political analysts, and outlets like WWSB ABC 7 and WSRQ Sarasota have featured his insights. He can be reached at [email protected]


33 comments

  • Paul Passarelli

    February 19, 2023 at 3:07 pm

    This story seems like a complaint against Rubio’s proposal. In hindsight it also appears to be an endorsement for it.

    What? Why? Because if the current ‘tighter’ (manual) inspections were effective then they would have caught the precursor causes of this disaster. Clearly the current methods failed. Which says absolutely nothing about then unadopted proposal.. Which is what the author of this story seems to be trying to stir up sentiment against.

    If the current schema of labor intensive manual rail inspections were dumped in favor of a highly automated and inexpensive mass data gathering & heavy analysis paradigm, then there would have to have been a slew of red-flags that had to be ignored instead of the one or possibly two that were missed leading up to the Palestine crash & burn.

    If we look at the other half of the issue, it is clear that Buttegieg is worse than incompetent, he’s complacent in his incompetence. Just like so many Democrats.

    Under Biden, not only do we have the Deep State Bureaucracies, we have a top down culture that it’s OK to be *RULED* by incompetent bureaucrats.

    I think it’s past tome to say in an open letter tot the GOP leadership that if they do not take back the Constitutional power & authority that has been surrendered by previous congresses, there will be a massive retaliation.

    As the mysterious Ambassador Kosh from Babylon 5 once said: “The avalanche has started, it’s too late for the pebbles to vote.” If the 535 pebbles in Congress don’t stop the coming avalanche, they will be swept aside, as 535 grains of sand against the will of some majority of 300 million angry boulders.

    • cassandra

      February 19, 2023 at 8:24 pm

      Paul, It is my understanding that the automated track inspection system would not have detected the condition that caused the derailment: “mechanical failure of the axle on one of the cars—an overheated bearing—leading to derailment and then jackknifing tumbling cars.” —-commondreams.com

      Also See:
      https://www.levernews.com/rail-companies-blocked-safety-rules-before-ohio-derailment/
      https://www.levernews.com/buttigieg-pretends-hes-powerless-to-reduce-derailment-risks/
      https://jacobin.com/2023/02/environmental-groups-letter-pete-buttigieg-legal-action-rail-safety-brakes-rules

      • Paul Passarelli

        February 20, 2023 at 10:08 am

        Hi Cassandra,
        I agree. It is my understanding that the cause was “axle failure”(*). This is an extremely rare condition since they started fully machining axles some 70 years ago.

        My point was not to promote Rubio’s idea as superior, it was merely to point out that criticizing an alternative plan to deflect the blame from the current set or rules & regulations i.e. ‘the status quo’, is propagandist disinformation!

        Bottom line, even if the axle failure was the proximate cause, the current system *FAILED* to detect it in a timely manner.

        (*) Axle Failure covers a whole slew of symptoms. The layman believes that the failure is a simple breaking of the steel axle that connects the wheels on either side of the truck. That mode of failure as I mentioned has all but disappeared. The likely issue was actually ‘bearing failure’ which lead to ‘axle failure’. Bearing failure is common. It is so common that there is automated equipment that checks the bearing temperature of every train that passes at multiple locations of every line. The real question is why was this data ignored? Why didn’t the current regulations catch the fault? Why aren’ the bureaucrats that let this major problem slip through the cracks while focusing on myriad other less important things being called out?

        Because the status quo is cherished by the Deep State!

        • cassandra

          February 20, 2023 at 4:27 pm

          Hi Paul,
          As I always say: Profits! Profits! Profits! Marco and Vance seem to agree in their letter to Buttigieg. It’s okay if you say it, too..LOL

          You ask: “why was this data ignored?” The alarm sounded and the brakes were applied, but I haven’t read an explanation of what actions the crew of two, plus one trainee, took.

          Thank you for the axle and bearing information. You’re right: I didn’t have any idea how it works.

          As to the status quo, it seems that neither party is very interested in fixing the RR problems. I don’t think Buttigieg is necessarily incompetent. Instead, it seems that he, like Trump and Elaine Choa, is putting industry profits far ahead of safety concerns. Although I do have to say that Trump was worse in repealing what small progress Obama had made. I don’t know much about a Deep State, but the Superficial (is that it??) State certainly does cherish the status quo.

    • Carlos Galvis

      February 21, 2023 at 3:15 pm

      A GOP sedition party, Marco Rubio supporter I take you are?

    • 4TimesAYear

      February 22, 2023 at 8:53 pm

      The problem is that what caused it was a faulty wheel bearing. It had nothing to do with the track “early indications are that a wheel bearing on a rail car was faulty, NPR reported. Further investigation findings should be published within two weeks.”
      That said, automated track inspections in combination with visual inspections should be helpful. I don’t think Rubio was proposing reductions in visual inspections. Waivers can have more than one meaning – in this case waivers could have meant help with paying for the automated trials – or I might be misunderstanding its use here.

  • Paul Passarelli

    February 20, 2023 at 9:08 pm

    Hi Cassandra,

    I see a huge difference between gross incompetence and recognizing the importance of profits. That’s not the same as “putting industry profits far ahead of safety concerns.”, which would be recklessness. But ignoring the importance of profits is just plain dumb.

    However, it’s not like Buttegieg did anything to elevate safety even at the expense of the taxpayers & the consumers. He’s been a ‘no-show’ since day one. Recall when he was on ‘paternity leave’ or some such reason because he and his husband were busy playing house in Washington DC?

    A cabinet position means you make sacrifices. He used it to feather his nest, literally & figuratively.

    • Carlos Galvis

      February 21, 2023 at 3:17 pm

      So, Marco Rubio isn’t an opportunist, profits before the people type of guy to you?

    • cassandra

      February 21, 2023 at 3:53 pm

      My 1pm reply to you is “awaiting moderation”. Sometimes a 2nd comment (like this one) works!

    • Great job

      February 28, 2023 at 4:45 pm

      Well your profits just destroyed some trump desantis voters entire town.
      I say you did a good job. lol

      • Paul Passarelli

        February 28, 2023 at 9:50 pm

        What’s your point? In case you missed it, I’ve been saying that the railroad needs to be held fully accountable for the damages.

        That loss of profits is *supposed* to disincentivize them from cutting corners. But, if the government bails them out then no lesson will be learned.

  • cassandra

    February 21, 2023 at 1:00 pm

    Hi Paul,
    Agree that Buttigieg has not increased safety, despite having several options available—starting with a new cost-benefit analysis.The interested environmental groups should take legal action now.

    Regarding Pete’s paternity leave: In Buttigieg’s defense, it’s likely that he was strongly encouraged by Biden to take the time off. The administration has advocated for parenting leave for all employees. (While—strangely/hypocritically— denying sick-leave to RR workers last year!) Buttigieg’s brief paternity leave set a good example for employers to follow.

    Either way, it seems that few politicians, regardless of party, care much what we want.

    BTW, Paul, were you calling me “just plain dumb” again? LOL

    • Paul Passarelli

      February 21, 2023 at 8:30 pm

      Hi Cassandra,

      regarding: “just plain dumb”

      If and only if you are the one secretly ***controlling*** the Democrat’s dumb agenda.

      • cassandra

        February 23, 2023 at 12:29 pm

        Not so good at controlling. When some guy reminded me of trying, by the time I stopped grinning or blushing…maybe it was both…I had completely forgotten what it was that I’d wanted to say..

  • PWFRC

    February 21, 2023 at 6:42 pm

    So, let’s just ignore the culpability of the railroad company itself?
    Objections to proposed reg.s is a tried and true GOP stalling tactic, as is finger pointing.
    If companies are so good at running themselves, why have regulations at all?

    • Paul Passarelli

      February 21, 2023 at 8:37 pm

      No! Absolutely not! Someone somewhere failed to take the appropriate action when the warning signals presented themselves. And even if it was a failure of the warning system to detect the problem that ultimately lead up the the disaster, the RR company should still be on the hook.

      A big part of the problem is that the way the RRs are treated by the Federal Government. They are private companies with federal work rules. Ever wonder why on the IRS form 1040 there are *STILL* special boxes for railroad workers to fill out? Well, there are special carve-outs that are now more than a century carved in stone. Why?

  • Carlos Galvis

    February 21, 2023 at 9:15 pm

    Democrats’ dumb agenda? Seriously?

    • Paul Passarelli

      February 21, 2023 at 11:12 pm

      Yes, Carlos. As serious as a heart attack.
      Keep in mind I was being kind.

      • Get Real Paul

        February 25, 2023 at 4:13 am

        You may have confused kindness with ignorance.

  • Carlos Galvis

    February 22, 2023 at 6:36 am

    Maga cult follower much, moron?

    • Paul Passarelli

      February 22, 2023 at 12:10 pm

      Is that the best you can do? Name calling?
      Tell us Carlos, does your company earn profits? It certainly has a reputation for cutting corners.

      Case: Dwight Byrd v Trujillo
      & Sons Inc.
      Case no.: 04-CA-09240,
      Miami-Dade Circuit Court
      Filing date: April 22, 2004
      Settlement date: July 27,
      2005
      Plaintiff attorneys: James
      A. Hannon of Hannon & Boyers,
      Miami, and Michael Haggard of
      Haggard Parks Haggard & Lewis,
      Coral Gables.
      Defense artorney: Peter
      Murphy of Kubicki Draper in
      Miami.
      Details: In November 2003,
      an Entenmann’s Bakery in
      North Miami was being
      demolished by owner Trujillo &
      Sons. The company’s
      construction supervisor was
      unlicensed, uninsured and
      inexperienced…

      Maybe they learned their lesson. Probably. Unlike the government that can make gross mistakes and not suffer the consequences, businesses that fail to take heed, are quickly destroyed by their mistakes.

      If you read my position, the RR needs to be held accountable, but many RRs are also pseudo-governmental entities. That needs to end regardless.

      As for MAGA — SMH. I want a Great America, don’t you?

      • Carlos Galvis

        February 22, 2023 at 12:54 pm

        What’s your point, f k face? I mean, pointing out what’s public info that applies to the company I work for means zilch. Face it, bro. You’re a fascist and typical fascists like you hate being called out on your bs. Admit it. You’re a cult followin’ idiot supporting a loser president (twice loser of the popular vote) who will be going to jail soon.

        • Paul Passarelli

          February 22, 2023 at 1:09 pm

          My point, name caller, is that companies do what they do to avoid expenses. They take chances that the cheaper solution will be sufficient to accomplish their long term goals. They cut corners when they can, and sometimes when they shouldn’t.

          The fact that you are willing to ignore that basic fact of human nature, and that I have to point it out to you, is going to tell anyone with two brain cells that reads this exchange which one of us is the ‘moron’ (your word).

          • Carlos Galvis

            February 22, 2023 at 1:13 pm

            Paul, Paul, Paul. Bored these days trying to sell expensive, over-rated cars? You’re not disputing you’re a fascist idiot. Call it name calling, call it whatever you like. I looked over your past posts on this site and your…..word salads don’t fn impress me, bro. All you do is make stuff up as you go along. At least admit you’re a fascist and we can end this boring back and forth so you can continue being the over-hyped car salesman you are….

          • Paul Passarelli

            February 22, 2023 at 4:57 pm

            Carlos,
            Why would I dispute your made up lies? That would only give them traction. I know you are lying, you may or may not know you’re lying, and anyone else who sticks around to read this knows you are simply making shit up.

            If you think my writing is “word salad”, next time we communicate I’ll use smaller words. Perhaps you should find someone else to call names.

  • Dave Sepanik

    February 22, 2023 at 7:29 am

    The Railroad company’s quality controls itself not the use of automated data collection for the tracks is the issue. Obviously this company pushed the limits of the useful life of the bearing calculated by mounds of data that dictate when you change out those scheduled refurbishments well before it even gets close to the end of its useful life. They pushed the limits mechanically of their assets, no cameras to see the roostertail of sparks for 20 miles, no automated alarms to the Engineer the axle failed, and no training for him/her to see what is going on in this very sensitive Environmental payload? And blame Pete or Biden for this greed and ignorance. Oh Ok. Time to clean your own messes. Tax free.

    • Carlos Galvis

      February 22, 2023 at 8:05 am

      Well said. My company works with Norfolk Southern, UP, FEC, and all these companies are the same. They do little work for big profits. They operate with old equipment more often than not. They are notorious for as you say, pushing the limits mechanically of their assets”. Blame all who have in the past resisted more oversight of companies like these who have zero regard for the communities located close to the very tracks they use.

    • Paul Passarelli

      February 22, 2023 at 12:23 pm

      Yes, blame where blame is due. I’m sure you know the expression ‘Shit Floats’. When the Secretary is supposed to ***UNDERSTAND*** the agency he oversees. His ignorance is inexcusable. The fact that Sleepy Joe appointed him is just one more failure in his far-too-long political career.

      When that nuclear waste tank collapsed in New Mexico, I blamed then Secretary of Energy Rick Scott for not being on the ball, and allowing the DOE bureaucracy to allow that tank to fail. But at least Scott was competent. The ultimate failure was his unwillingness to hold a particular undersecretary to responsible. He he shouldered the blame for his subordinate’s bureaucratic complacency.

      BIG DIFFERENCE!

      • Paul Passarelli

        February 22, 2023 at 12:30 pm

        Whoops — I meant Rick Perry.

  • Carlos Galvis

    February 22, 2023 at 12:48 pm

    Gawwdd, you are a moron.

  • Carlos Galvis

    February 22, 2023 at 5:03 pm

    Plain and simple. You’re a fkn fascist. If it walks like duck…you know the fkn rest, bro.

    • Tjb

      February 23, 2023 at 5:32 pm

      Carlos, there is a reason why Paul only received a bIt more than 1% of the vote when he ran for state office in Connecticut. He is a extremely condescending and pompous individual.

      • Paul Passarelli

        February 24, 2023 at 12:03 am

        Look who decided to join the party. Another one of my Fake Alias detractors.

        Why would you accuse me of being condescending when the people I engage are clearly and obviously incorrect in their suppositions? Let’s get it right, I’m berating them.

        FWIW, pointing out that someone else is wronger than wrong, isn’t an affectation. It’s an unmitigated display of contempt for those that lie or are simply too stupid to know that they are parroting lies. i.e Democrat Supporters aka Useful Idiots.

        Carlos here didn’t even read what I wrote. OK, maybe he read it, but if he did then he clearly didn’t understand it. When I pointed out what the company he has linked in his profile did; i.e. tried to dance around the rules of permitting & due diligence, and suffered the consequences, he googled my name. Last time I checked there are three people with my name in the whole USA (versus 56 named ‘Carlos Galvis’). So with a one in three chance, he decided to picked the poor guy from Long Island that sells cars, and accused me of being him. And he did that — AFTER — claiming to have read some of my postings. So to call Carlos stupid, is probably an insult to the majority of stupid people.

        Maybe you, Tjb, should read the whole thread before jumping in. And because i’m sure it will annoy you, I’ll repeat the truth, I got 1.4% of the vote when I ran for the US Senate against Chris “Dumber-than-Dirt” Murphy (D) and Linda “WWE” McMahon (R) in 2012, and got more votes in CT that year than Gary Johnson (L) who was running at the top of my ticket for POTUS! Also FWIW the Murphy-McMahon campaign duopoly spent >$50 Million each to win a seat that pays a measly $274,000 annual salary.

        So by all means, please continue to bring up my Senate run. The more people here in Florida learn about it, the more successful I’ll be if I choose to seek office here someday.

Comments are closed.


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