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Advocates Urge President Biden to Call Out Norfolk Southern’s Closed Door Lobbying During Visit to East Palestine

New Report Finds Norfolk Southern Spent $2.3 million on Federal Lobbying in 2023, Up 30 Percent from Year Before Derailment

Washington, D.C. — Tomorrow, President Joe Biden plans to visit East Palestine, Ohio — the site of the disastrous Norfolk Southern train derailment on February 3, 2023.

A new Public Citizen report reveals that in the year since the derailment, Norfolk Southern spent $2.3 million lobbying Congress, federal agencies, and the White House on railway safety, rail staffing, and other related issues — an increase of more than 30% over the previous year.

A Norfolk Southern shareholder has filed a shareholder proposal specifically on Lobbying Disclosure that is expected to be voted on at the Norfolk Southern corporate annual meeting this spring. Public Citizen and members of Congressare also calling on the Securities Exchange Commission to enact new corporate lobbying disclosure rules to ensure that investors and the public have much more detailed information than is currently available about what companies like Norfolk Southern are paying lobbyists to do on the federal level and in states like Ohio.

Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio) has blamed heavy railroad industry lobbying by Norfolk Southern and the railroad industry as the reason that the bipartisan Rail Safety Act, proposed after the East Palestine disaster, has been stalled in Congress. According to the Washington Post, Norfolk Southern and other companies have worked behind closed doors since the disaster to weaken or eliminate core protections in the rail safety bill.

In response, Lisa Gilbert, executive vice president of Public Citizen released the following statement:

“We applaud President Biden for making this visit to recognize the devastation and continued damage that the toxic derailment disaster caused for thousands of people in Ohio and Pennsylvania. We also urge the president to use this moment to support the senators’ request and encourage the SEC to consider corporate lobbying disclosure rules and shed light on the behind-closed-doors lobbying that too often undercuts public health and safety.

Jon Golinger, democracy advocate at Public Citizen, released the following statement:

“Our report uncovered that Norfolk Southern spent millions lobbying on issues like railroad safety legislation after the East Palestine disaster — but in order to understand the real impact of their lobbying we need new corporate lobbying transparency rules.  Investors and the public have a right to know if companies like Northern Southern are saying one thing in public but doing another behind closed doors.”