Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D) is reportedly trying to give $15 million in taxpayer money to disgraced rail company Norfolk Southern, the company that is responsible for two disastrous train derailments in the past month.
Norfolk Southern became a household name just a few weeks ago after one of their trains derailed in East Palestine, Ohio, causing a spill of toxic chemicals that polluted the air and water in the area. Residents living near the derailment reported severe health problems as a result of the toxic spill, and the Biden administration is still facing backlash over their botched response to the incident.
Soon after the first disaster, another Norfolk Southern-operated train derailed — this time in Van Buren Township, Michigan, the same state that Whitmer represents. Though there were reportedly no hazardous materials spilled as a result of this derailment, critics have still questioned the company’s competency.
Now, despite all of these issues, Whitmer reportedly wants to hand over taxpayer funds to Norfolk Southern.
Michigan state Rep. James DeSana (R) has revealed that as much as $15 million could be given to Norfolk Southern out of a $750 million proposal in corporate welfare money from the Whitmer administration.
The Detroit News reports that the Whitmer administration has already given “$210 million in state incentives” and $772 million in tax abatements” to the company’s project that also includes Ford and Contemporary Amperex Technology Co. Ltd. (CATL), a communist Chinese-controlled company.
Desana condemned Whitmer’s corporate welfare handout in a statement, arguing that it would be “particularly egregious” in the wake of Norfolk Southern’s recent disasters.
“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,” the Republican state representative wrote. “Yet Gov. Whitmer is asking us to ignore all that and hand over taxpayer dollars to help Norfolk Southern grow in Michigan.”
Whitmer’s former rival, 2022 gubernatorial candidate Tudor Dixon, echoed DeSana’s statement in a tweet.
“Millions in MI taxpayer dollars should not be going to Norfolk Southern while investigations into the company’s two recent derailments – one resulting in an environmental crisis – are ongoing,” Dixon wrote.
Millions in MI taxpayer dollars should not be going to Norfolk Southern while investigations into the company’s two recent derailments – one resulting in an environmental crisis – are ongoing. https://t.co/OehB9SsYdO
— Tudor Dixon (@TudorDixon) February 22, 2023
Michigan state Rep. Andrew Fink (R) also agreed, noting that an investigation needs to take place before Whitmer gives anything to Norfolk Southern.
“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,” he said.
Michigan state Rep. Jamie Thompson (R) also called out Whitmer’s decision, arguing that she needs to live up to her views on environmentalism in the wake of the Ohio disaster.
“Norfolk Southern needs to be clear about what happened and why this is happening. There needs to be accountability. The company needs to be transparent about what it’s doing to protect the public, address these issues and prevent future incidents before a single cent of our hard-earned tax dollars is handed over to help it grow its business in Michigan,” Thompson said.
Meanwhile, Democrats have defended the move, with Michigan state Rep. Philip Skaggs (D) claiming that the corporate welfare to Norfolk Southern was just smart infrastructure spending.
“It is simply smart government to build the infrastructure around which private enterprise can thrive,” Skaggs said, according to Detroit News.
"It is not a blank check to the corporation," said Rep. @philipskaggs, D-East Grand Rapids. "It is simply smart government to build the infrastructure around which private enterprise can thrive."https://t.co/X7wiOoUvUf https://t.co/o5m6VeYNLI
— Chad Livengood (@ChadLivengood) February 22, 2023