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At a hearing before the Senate Environmental and Public Works Committee on Thursday, Norfolk Southern CEO Alan Shaw insisted that he was “deeply sorry” for last month’s train derailment that spilled toxic chemicals in East Palestine, Ohio. But throughout the hearing, he seemed hesitant to commit to measures that could begin to make it right.
Throughout the hearing, Shaw played a game of evasion. He answered question after question with “I am committed to…” before failing to commit to anything of substance. Shaw espoused ideals, but never endorsed the concrete examples that senators presented for how to enshrine them.
Take, for example, his baffling exchange with Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass). Sen. Markey mentioned that Norfolk Southern spent $3.4 billion in stock buybacks and that it made $3.3 billion in profit last year. Shaw said, “I am committed to making Norfolk Southern’s safety culture the best in the industry.”
“Well, you’re not having a good month,” Markey shot back, referencing the other Norfolk Southern train derailment in Ohio this weekend. Markey then asked if Norfolk Southern would compensate homeowners for diminished property values resulting from the derailment.
“Senator, I’m committing to do what’s right,” Shaw said.
“Well, what’s right is, a family that had a home worth $100,000 that is now worth $50,000 will probably never be able to sell that home for $100,000 again,” Markey said. “Will you compensate that family for that loss?”
Sen. Edward Markey questions the CEO of Norfolk Southern on the company’s safety regulations following the train derailment in East Palestine, Ohio.
— The Associated Press (@AP) March 9, 2023
“Senator,” Shaw repeated, “I’m committed to do what’s right.”