A series of Republican House committees are seeking to launch investigations into the toxic train disaster in East Palestine, Ohio, several aides to the committees have told CNN.
Republican lawmakers vow to use their oversight power to probe into what they describe as the Biden administration’s flawed response to the train accident, which has left East Palestine residents afraid to breathe city air and municipal water after a train carrying toxic chemicals derailed on February 3.
They have also left the door open for hearings on the matter, including the possibility of bringing in EPA Administrator Michael Regan and Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg to testify publicly, aides said, though such decisions have yet to be made.
The GOP’s greatest urgency for oversight comes as several lawmakers have criticized President Joe Biden for not visiting East Palestine. Biden told reporters last Friday that he has no plans to travel to the derailment site and defended his administration’s response to the accident.
The House committees on Transportation and Infrastructure, Energy and Commerce, and Oversight are among the panels promising to find answers to what happened, as well as hold the Biden administration and the rail industry accountable for the consequences.
Some Republican members of the commissions are also discussing a possible field hearing in East Palestine, although no official plans have yet been made, sources familiar with the talks told CNN.
Axios was the first to report on the commission plans.
The Commerce and Energy committee has asked the EPA to appear before the panel’s Environment, Manufacturing and Critical Materials subcommittee, chaired by Republican Rep. Bill Johnson, who represents East Palestine, a committee aide told CNN.
Johnson and Energy and Commerce Chairwoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers, a Washington State Republican, formally launched their investigation on February 17, when they sent a letter to Regan demanding answers on a timeline of events related to the train accident, a list of chemicals on board, materials related to the response from EPA and local agencies, as well as other information related to the derailment.