Controversy Erupts Over Michigan Governor’s Plans to Give Norfolk Southern $15 Million in Taxpayer Funds

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Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer, a Democrat, is reportedly planning to give Norfolk Southern $15 million in taxpayer dollars to help expand its operations in the state, despite two separate derailments in the past month.

The proposal has sparked concern among Republican lawmakers who are calling for more scrutiny of the train operator in light of recent events.

Michigan Rep. James DeSana, a Republican, said in a statement on Feb. 22 that he objected to “another corporate welfare proposal from the Whitmer administration” that includes up to $15 million for the railway company for rail improvements.

The $15 million has reportedly been earmarked as part of Whitmer’s request for $750 million in spending for infrastructure to support a proposed Ford electric vehicle (EV) battery plant in Marshall. That money would go toward purchasing the land, improving roads in the area, and expanding a wastewater treatment plant, according to local reports.

“It’s always a bad idea to expect taxpayers to foot the bill for corporate welfare projects—but this proposal is particularly egregious,” DeSana said.

“Norfolk Southern has had two dangerous train derailments in the Midwest this month—one in Michigan and another that leaked hazardous chemicals that are still causing serious concerns for families in Ohio. Yet Governor Whitmer is asking us to ignore all that and hand over taxpayer dollars to help Norfolk Southern grow in Michigan,” the Republican said.

‘Special Scrutiny’ Needed

“Considering its recent safety record, the government should be giving this company special scrutiny—not special favors.”

The taxpayer funding comes in the wake of a freight train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio, on Feb. 3 that caused toxic chemicals to spill.

A controlled release and burning of the chemicals onboard, which included vinyl chloride, ethylhexyl acrylate, ethylene glycol monobutyl ether, and butyl acrylate, was conducted by officials on Feb. 6 and sent a dark plume of smoke up into the air.

By Katabella Roberts

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