(Molly Bruns, Headline USA) According to Michigan’s Republican lawmakers, Democrat Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s $750 million deal to incentivize a Ford battery plant will also send $15 million to Norfolk Southern, the train company in the midst of the East Palestine toxic chemical burn and trail derailment.
Republican state Rep. James DeSana said at least $15 million in the proposal has been relegated to “help the troubled Norfolk Southern Railway Company expand its footprint in Michigan.”
“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 in a statement. “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 Gov. Whitmer is asking us to ignore all that and hand over taxpayer dollars to help Norfolk Southern grow in Michigan.”
As Whitmer’s pet project, she argued the battery plant will bring money and jobs to the state. The initiative is mired in controversy due to Ford’s connections with Chinese companies.
The funding will be set aside for improvements to the state’s railways.
Whitmer’s office insisted that the funding was “company specific,” despite the language designating the money specifically to Norfolk Southern.
“We’ve got to build out the infrastructure around it, from roads to a rail hub to water infrastructure and utilities, and so that’s what these resources are for,” Whitmer said, according to Gongwer. “So it’s not company specific, it’s about building out a community that’s very excited about this big investment.”
The Atlanta-based company is still struggling with the derailment in East Palestine and Eastern Michigan. Experts predict that the “controlled burn” of the chemicals in Ohio will likely cause catastrophic health and environmental problems for years to come.
Republican officials in Michigan hesitated to even consider negotiating with the disgraced company until officials complete a thorough investigation of the derailments.
“Until a full investigation of the Norfolk Southern derailments in Ohio and Michigan is complete, I can’t believe we’re even discussing appropriating $15,000,000 to expand their operations in Michigan,” said state Rep. Andrew Fink, R.