How the Rail Lobby Won in Washington and Rail Safety Lost in America

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After the catastrophic Norfolk Southern train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, it didn’t take long for the supercharged partisan atmosphere in Washington to morph the disaster into a political blame game.

Republicans castigated President Joe Biden’s administration for falling asleep at the switch. Biden officials pointed to deregulation under former President Donald Trump. And all the while, the rail industry knew that, even though new safety regulations would seem like an obvious response to the crash and subsequent release of toxic chemicals into the air, new regulations were far from a given.

Although it’s far from the most influential lobby in Washington, the rail industry has spent more than $700 million in the last 25 years, according to data maintained by OpenSecrets. And it’s those hundreds of millions spent pushing back against government safety regulations—primarily but not exclusively through Republicans—that has purchased considerable influence in the U.S. Capitol.

Read more at The Daily Beast.