Norfolk Southern has greased politicians’ hands to the tune of nearly $100 million since 1990
Norfolk Southern Railway, the company responsible for over half of the hazmat rail incidents in 2022 and the catastrophic Feb. 3 derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, has spent a great deal of money over the past 30 years to win favor amongst America’s political elites.
Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine (R), Pennsylvania Gov. Josh Shapiro (D), the Environmental Protection Agency, and others have suggested that Norfolk Southern will be held accountable for the cleanup in East Palestine, Ohio; now home an ecological disaster that has killed wildlife, turned the sky black, and threatened the residents’ ways of life.
Biden’s Transportation Secretary, Pete Buttigieg, accountable the nation’s system of railroads and the regulation of its railways, repeated the claim that those responsible or possibly malfeasant will be held accountable, suggesting also that he would turn to Congress for help in tackling violators amongst the rail companies, reported Fortune.
A new report from the New Republic suggested that some of those expected to help hold Norfolk Southern responsible are the same that have gladly taken its money in the past.
The rail industry has spent nearly $800 million to lobby the government that is supposed to oversee them since 1998.
According to Open Secrets, Norfolk Southern spent $1.8 million lobbying last year and $1.6 million the year before. Since 1998, it has spent over $79 million on lobbying efforts and $16,948,996 on political contributions.
That money has made its way to both sides of the aisle.
The company favored Democratic congressional candidates 55.27% to 44.72%, but doled out hundreds of thousands of dollars to persons of all political persuasions who may one day be called to hold it accountable.
Senatorial and congressional campaign committees for both parties received money from the railway last year — as did 71 Democrats and 62 Republicans in Congress.
For instance, Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) received $10,000 from Norfolk Southern last year, as did leftist Democratic Sen. Tammy Duckworth (Ill.), Rep. James Clyburn (D-S.C.) and Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (D-N.Y.). Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell received $5,000 as did Sen. John Boozman (R-Ark.).
Almost half of the crowded House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure pocketed money from Norfolk Southern.
The relationship that the government — which the residents of East Palestine have been told will ensure justice is meted out — has with the company is incestuous for reasons beyond money.
75% of the company’s lobbyists last year previously held government positions.
TheBlaze previously reported that Norfolk Southern Railroad just celebrated “double-digit percentage growth in revenue and … record revenue and operating income,” noting in its end-of-year financial report that it had raked in $12.7 billion in 2022, up 14% over the previous year. The railway managed this despite reportedly accounting for over half the hazmat damages involving rail transportation in the U.S. last year.
The New York Times reported that the rate of accidents on the company’s railway has increased in each of the last four years.
Albers, Illinois, for instance, was swept by 20,000 gallons of methyl methacrylate monomer, a combustible liquid, on Sept. 19, 2022, after a Norfolk Southern derailment. Sandusky, Ohio, similarly was streaked with spillage, this time 20,000 gallons of paraffin wax in October 2022.
Bank of America analyst Ken Hoexter indicated last week that in the case of the Feb. 3 Norfolk Southern disaster in Ohio, the railway may have to pay $40 million to $50 million in a “casualty charge,” reported FreightWaves. However, on the top end, this would equal roughly 1.7% of its 2022 profits and amount to a drop in the bucket.