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Majority Leader Schumer Floor Remarks Calling On The Norfolk Southern CEO And The NTSB Chair To Provide Answers Following The East Palestine Derailment

Washington, D.C.   Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) today spoke on the Senate floor regarding Alan Shaw, the CEO of Norfolk Southern, and Jennifer Homendy, the National Transportation Safety Board Chair, coming before the Senate Commerce Committee to testify in the aftermath of the East Palestine derailment. Below are Senator Schumer’s remarks, which can also be viewed here:

After last month’s terrible derailment in East Palestine, Norfolk Southern CEO Alan Shaw has a chance today to prove before the Senate Commerce Committee that his company is ready to fix the damage they have created.

During this testimony I hope Mr. Shaw will offer some candid answers to a number of very troubling questions.

For example—if Mr. Shaw and rail executives truly care about safety, why did they spend years—years—lobbying the Republican Administrations to claw away at regulations intended to keep people safe?

What is Norfolk Southern doing to prevent future accidents like the one in East Palestine? And God forbid another one happens, how will Norfolk Southern ensure communities get the resources they need?

I also want to hear Mr. Shaw explain why his company has engorged itself with stock buybacks when that money could have been spent on safety.

Listen to this: Norfolk Southern has more than doubled the amount they spent on stock buybacks in the five years after the Trump Tax law, compared to the five years before it.

In the same period, they cut jobs by thousands and lowered capital investments by billions. How is that justifiable?

I understand that NTSB Chair Homendy is offering testimony as well. I hope we hear from her that the NTSB is ready to conduct a full investigation not just into Norfolk Southern but into all Class-I freight rail companies as I have asked her to do.

Such an examination could shed light on the number of rail accidents, if they occurred in populated areas, which toxic chemicals were released.

A full NTSB investigation could tell us which of these accidents occurred because the tracks were severely degraded, or poorly designed.

And a full investigation from the NTSB could tell us which negligent rail company policies contributed to the 2,700 deaths in recent years, and if any of these could have been prevented.

The Senate deserves explanations. Americans in communities like East Palestine want answers. I hope today’s hearing provides some, so we can prevent rail disasters like the one in Ohio from happening again.