Sen. J.D. Vance (R-OH) is pushing for a Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) to be offered to businesses in East Palestine following the recent train derailment on February 3.
“Like many towns near Youngstown, Ohio, it has suffered substantially from the wave of deindustrialization that saw millions of jobs leave for China, Mexico, and other countries,” Vance wrote in a recent op-ed for The Washington Post.
“Because of this, the concerns of residents have focused on economic development questions over the past several years,” Vance said. “Every one of those challenges has gotten much more difficult.”
The train derailment led to a toxic chemical spill and a burn-off of chemicals that clouded the village of 5,000 residents with black smoke, prompting concerns about long-term health effects, The Epoch Times reported.
Vance said this is the latest setback in a town whose already stressed economy “drives people and capital away.”
His solution is a paycheck protection program, similar to what the federal government issued during the pandemic, offering local businesses the funds needed to stay open and pay employees and rent, The Epoch Times reported.
Vance requested taxpayer funds from the federal government as well as funds from Norfolk Southern Railway, the company behind the crash.
“Without special refinancing, homeowners will be underwater as flight from the community drives home prices lower, decimating the tax base on which local schools and public services rely. Farms will require direct support,” Vance added.
“Underfunded schools will need help. East Palestine will need its own version of the Paycheck Protection Program to protect workers and businesses who lost their livelihoods because of the decisions of others,” Vance wrote.
During the pandemic, the PPP was created under the CARES Act in March 2020, supporting 3 million jobs at its height, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
East Palestine residents have already filed a lawsuit against Norfolk Southern, alleging the train operator was negligent and created an “environmental catastrophe.”
The lawsuit calls for testing and cleaning protocols, a medical monitoring fund, and compensation for damages suffered by businesses and citizens within 30 miles of the derailment, according to The Epoch Times.
“Norfolk Southern’s misguided cleanup effort unleashed a chemical warfare agent on the residents of East Palestine,” said attorney Nils Johnson Jr, per The Epoch Times. “The company’s negligence didn’t just lead to this tragic disaster, it amplified the fallout considerably, and Norfolk Southern’s delayed response and eventual actions only added fuel to this fire.”
“The sheer scale of the destruction is staggering. The true extent of the damage may not reveal itself for years to come. Norfolk Southern needs to take responsibility now and provide the people of East Palestine and Columbiana County with the resources they need for a healthy future,” Johnson added.
The toxic exposure of East Palestine citizens is much like the First Responders on 9/11, while the government stalls and stalls and people get sick. The 9/11 First Responders were forsaken by our government.