OPINION: When will Biden decide to pay East Palestine a “surprise” visit?



This photo taken with a drone shows portions of a Norfolk Southern freight train that derailed Friday night in East Palestine, Ohio are still on fire at mid-day Saturday, Feb. 4, 2023. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)

Opinions expressed in the Op/Ed section of The Knight Crier are not necessarily reflective of the views of the entire staff of the KC.

On Monday, ironically President’s Day in America, President Biden decided to take a spur-of-the-moment “surprise” trip to Kyiv, Ukraine. As the one-year anniversary of Russia invading Ukraine is approaching, Biden wanted to visit and talk about NATO’s loyalty to the war-ridden country and highlight America’s everlasting support for Zelensky’s nation. While his intentions may have been good, the timing was poor for a multitude of reasons.

During his field trip to Kyiv, Biden reiterated the support that America will give in order to assist Zelensky to eventually push Russia out of the Donbas region. Soon after using his positive thoughts and words of encouragement to mask a big revelation, Biden announced the US will give Ukraine military aid that is worth $500 million dollars. This should worry Americans because our own national debt will skyrocket and taxes will increase.

“Together, we’ve committed nearly 700 tanks, thousands of armored vehicles, 1,000 artillery systems, more than 2 million rounds of artillery ammunition, more than 50 advanced launch rocket systems, anti-ship and air defense systems, all to defend Ukraine. And that doesn’t count the other half a billion dollars that we are announcing today and tomorrow,” Biden said confidently.

This was a mistake from the Biden administration because there has not been an overview of the aid we are sending to Ukraine. Republicans in Congress have started to suggest a reasoning process concerning the amount of money we are giving to Ukraine, considering that the US has sent over $25 billion dollars in security assistance and weaponry since the 2020 election. Additionally, this announcement was made at bad timing because of an emergency in our home country that should have been addressed by the president first; the train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio.

On February 3, 2023, a Norfolk Southern train derailed in East Palestine, Ohio. The freight train was filled with dangerous chemicals that no humans should be exposed to. This was an emergency that should have gained attention of Biden immediately, but of course, it didn’t. It has now been over two weeks and Biden has yet to address the disaster, but made time to make an appearance in Kyiv. EPA has had boots on the ground since the incident, but this should not be all the help the citizens in East Palestine get.

In a statement accessible on the EPA’s official website, the response to the incident is reported as follows:

“EPA Region 5’s number one priority is – and will always be – the health and safety of communities across the region. That’s why as soon as EPA was notified of the Norfolk Southern train derailment on Friday, February 3, EPA personnel were on-site by 2 a.m. Saturday morning to assist with air monitoring. Since then, EPA has been boots-on-the-ground, leading robust air-quality testing – including with the state-of-the-art ASPECT plane and a mobile analytical laboratory – in and around East Palestine.”

EPA’s frequent reports of the water, air, and living conditions in the area continue to show signs of quick recovery, but the townspeople lack trust because of the health-related reactions they are having to the “controlled release” of hazardous chemicals. Also, a lack of financial aid from the government posed a challenge. The lack of government assistance angered the locals and elected officials in the town. After two weeks of chaos in Ohio, the Biden administration considered sending FEMA. To say the least, FEMA had other plans.

A Biden administration official told Fox News on Friday that “what East Palestine needs is much more expensive than what FEMA can provide” and that the “situation is different.”

This was frustrating to everyone in the town because they had no trust in the EPA, no trust in FEMA, and no president to turn to. Biden has been slammed because of his absence from the situation and his priorities falling out of national lines.

East Palestine Mayor Trent Conaway expresses his issue with Biden visiting Ukraine instead of Palestine in an interview with Jesse Waters. Conaway says in the interview that “that was the biggest slap in the face. That tells you right now, he doesn’t care about us. He can send every agency he wants to, but I found out this morning that he was in Ukraine giving millions of dollars away to people over there, not to us and I’m furious.”

Biden’s ignorance of the situation continues to spark commentary from other GOP officials including Ron Desantis and Donald Trump.

Florida Governor Ron Desantis shares his thoughts about Biden’s reaction. “We have a lot of problems accumulating here in our own country that he is neglecting,” Desantis said in an interview with Fox News on Friday. Desantis is referring to Biden’s pure neglect of the state of his own union.

Former President Donald Trump also made numerous statements slandering Biden’s response and he has planned to visit East Palestine today.

“As soon as I announced that I’m going, he announced a team will go. Hopefully, he will also be there. This is good news because we got them to ‘move.’ The people of East Palestine need help. I’ll see you on Wednesday,” Trump stated in an interview with Fox News as well.

Ultimately, without financial assistance from the government, Norfolk Southern has planned to fundraise and help to restore the area with a grant of 1 million dollars. This will help the town, but should not have to be the only type of aid they receive.

The unorganized response and poor timing from the Biden administration goes to show where the president’s priorities lay. Paying a “surprise” visit to another country when your nation is in need is irresponsible. The current president, commander in chief, should take action and not leave it up to former officials to carry the weight. Hopefully, the people of East Palestine get the recognition and acknowledgment they deserve from the government in a timely manner.