President Biden will travel to East Palestine, Ohio in February to mark the one-year anniversary of the disastrous train derailment in the town, a White House official confirmed to Fox News Digital.
Biden was heavily criticized at the time of the incident for never visiting the community in the weeks and months that followed. The official says Biden will discuss his administration’s “comprehensive, whole-of-government response” to ensure railroad safety.
Earlier this month, White House press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre was asked whether President Biden still had plans to visit East Palestine, Ohio. She told reporters, “The president will visit when it’s most helpful to the community.”
Fox News reached out to East Palestine Mayor Trent Conaway to find out when he thought the most helpful time would be, and he told Fox News, in “my personal opinion the best time for him to come would be February of 2025 when he is on his book tour.”
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Conaway additionally told Fox, “The President is always welcome to our town,” adding, “that being said, I don’t know what he would do here now.”
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Several other East Palestine residents spoke out against Biden in September for not visiting the town. Local residents Courtney Miller, DJ Yokley and Jami Wallace spoke with “Fox & Friends” guest host Dr. Nicole Saphier about the struggles they endured since the disaster that spewed toxic chemicals and caused health and environmental concerns.
“I still have yet to take my kids into East Palestine — I’m still fearful of what it’s going to cause,” Miller told Saphier about her situation.
She added that most of the people she knows in the area have “ended up sick,” and mentioned she’s been staying in a motel near the town since the derailment.
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“I just still don’t feel comfortable,” she continued. “And I don’t want to take my kids into something that obviously Biden doesn’t even want to show up (at).”
Biden had claimed in September that he simply hadn’t had time with his busy schedule to visit the Ohio town.
Biden’s lack of a visit came in contrast to former President Trump, who met with residents of East Palestine on February 22, 2023, just weeks after the incident. Joining him was Sen. J.D. Vance, R-Ohio.
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“You are not forgotten. We stand with you. We pray for you. And we will stand with you and your fight to help ensure the accountability that you deserve,” Trump told the crowd at the time. “The community has shown the tough and resilient heart of America. And that’s what it is. This is really America right here. We’re standing in America.”
Fox News’ Patrick Ward and Gabriel Hays contributed to this report.