Podcaster Joe Rogan has criticized Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg for claiming America’s construction industry is too white.
Rogan referred specifically to a speech in which Buttigieg stated how he believed too many white people work on construction sites, and how it had historically led to neighborhoods of color not benefiting from infrastructure projects.
But Rogan argued that Buttigieg’s comments displayed ‘a profound lack of understanding’ about the importance ‘of skilled labor’ in construction.
‘Do you know that he gave a speech the other day about how there’s too many white people working in construction sites?’ Rogan began, speaking to his audience.
‘We have heard way too many stories from generations past of infrastructure where you got a neighborhood, often a neighborhood of color, that finally sees the project come to them, but everyone in the hard hats on that project, looking like doing the good paying jobs, don’t look like they came from anywhere near the neighborhood,’ Buttigieg said at the conference.
Rogan stressed that hiring skilled workers was crucial for successful construction projects and such workers may need to be brought in from outside of the community.
Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg faced criticism from Joe Rogan on his podcast this week for recent remarks he made about construction workers
Buttigieg blatantly ignored a mushroom cloud of noxious smoke emanating from burning toxic chemicals spewed from a train wreck in East Palestine, Ohio until 10 days after the accident
‘That’s skilled labor. Like, you have to hire people that are really good at that. And if they don’t exist in that community, you have to hire them from outside that community,’ Rogan suggested.
‘If you see what happens when you have unskilled labor and unskilled people working on buildings, you have f**kng disasters,’ he went on.
Buttigieg took heat earlier in the week for giving a public address on infrastructure and making no mention of massive trail derailment in East Palestine, Ohio.
Rogan also squarely laid the blame of the train crash carrying toxic chemicals at the Secretary’s feet, branding it as a ‘colossal failure on the part of the Transportation Department.’
Buttigieg took ten days to say anything in response to the accident and even then appeared to shift some of the blame onto the Trump administration having reversed a little-known safety rule.
Buttigieg noted on Tuesday evening that his agency had taken a series of steps to improve rail safety through ‘historic investments,’ but said it was constrained by the Trump administration actions.
The 41-year-old former mayor pointed specifically to an electronic brake rule the Trump administration repealed and his own Transportation Department has made no effort to bring back.
‘We’re constrained by law on some areas of rail regulation (like the braking rule withdrawn by the Trump administration in 2018 because of a law passed by Congress in 2015), but we are using the powers we do have to keep people safe,’ Buttigieg wrote on Twitter.
At one stage, Buttigieg appeared to downplay the accident noting that roughly 1,000 trains derail per year just like the one in East Palestine.
‘While this horrible situation has gotten a particularly high amount of attention, there are roughly 1000 cases a year of a train derailing. Obviously they have levels of severity,’ he said.
Buttigieg went on: ‘Now this train was subject to certain enhanced requirements because of the hazardous materials on board, but obviously none of that prevented what happened.’
‘We’re going to be paying very close attention to the findings that NTSB [National Transportation Safety Board] comes back,’ he said.
‘Rail safety is something that has evolved a lot over the years but there’s clearly more than needs to be done,’ Buttigieg told Yahoo Finance.
People living in the area are fearful of long-term cancer risks and ecological devastation. (Above) Toxic smoke plume above East Palestine, Ohio on February 3, 2023
Without hardly any warning, the town’s working-class residents were roused from their homes and evacuated on February 3 after tankers derailed, spilling carcinogens like vinyl chloride, phosgene, and hydrogen chloride
Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va., said it was ‘unacceptable’ that no senior Biden administration official had visited East Palestine, Ohio until Thursday – 13 days after a Norfolk Southern train veered off-track.
‘I urge President Biden, Administrator Regan, and Transportation Secretary Buttigieg to provide a complete picture of the damage and a comprehensive plan to ensure the community is supported in the weeks, months and years to come, and this sort of accident never happens again. The damage done to East Palestine and the surrounding region is awful and it’s past time for those responsible to step up to the plate.’
Republican Rep. Lauren Boebert went farther, ‘Not a single comment about the train crash in Ohio. Instead, he bemoaned the whiteness of the construction industry. It’s amazing that this country is able to function at all under this regime.’
On Wednesday Buttigieg pushed back against claims his department was not helping enough with the fiery derailment that forced some 5,000 from their homes in a thread on Twitter.
10 days after the crash, Buttigieg finally addressed the Ohio crash
The Norfolk Southern train derailed on February 3 spilling various chemicals including vinyl chloride, a toxic chemical used to produce plastics.
Officials evacuated some 5,000 residents in the town and did a controlled burn of the chemicals but allowed them back days later.
State officials insist the air and water are safe after testing. But local residents have shared concerns about the Ohio River, which provides drinking water for millions of people. Some 3,500 fish have turned up dead in the area.
And though the Trump administration did roll back a regulation requiring modern braking systems on some trains, the Obama administration had already hollowed out that rule so much so that the modern braking systems would not have been required on the train that derailed in East Palestine.
The toxic train derailed in a fiery crash on February 3, leading authorities to evacuate the surrounding East Palestine, Ohio area
Alleged toxic chemicals and oil buildup is still seen in the creek behind their family home, in East Palestine
Fish and other aquatic wildlife that inhabited the creek have been wiped out due to the environmental disaster
Workers are seen pumping water into a creek for aeration at the East Palestine Park on Wednesday
The residents of the small have been told they are ineligible for FEMA help because their homes weren’t physically destroyed – even though they may be chemically contaminated.
While residents have been told it is safe to return to their homes, many are hesitant and unwilling to accept the assurances of state and federal officials.
As a result, they are staying in hotels that are currently being paid for by Norfolk Southern – the rail company whose train derailed two weeks ago.
Unlike in hurricanes or tornadoes, where homes are physically damaged if not destroyed, the homes in East Palestine remain in tact.
That – coupled with the fact that Norfolk Southern is already paying for accommodation, food and water – means the request can’t be granted and money that would be released in other disasters remains tied up, according to people familiar with the situation.
Ohio’s governor gave the all-clear for residents in the evacuation zone to return, but locals have questioned whether it is actually safe
Part of the town was evacuated over environmental concerns, and officials then decided to burn the hazardous materials in a controlled setting to avoid an unplanned, deadly explosion.
Now, residents do not know whether it is safe to return to their homes.
They are being told that all there are no traces of the toxic chemicals in the water or air, but have been advised to drink bottled water as a precaution.
Many have rejected those assurances, including Ohio Senator J.D. Vance.
‘If the EPA Administrator wants to stand here and tell people that the tap water is safe…they should be willing to drink it.
‘If I was living here, I’d be drinking bottled water.’
Many residents continue to complain of sore eyes and scratchy throats, and some say they are suffering headaches.
There are grave concerns for the health of the town’s residents, and mounting questions over the crisis.
Norfolk Southern’s CEO is yet to visit the town.