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Science Committee Chairs Question Decision to Halt NASA Air Pollution Monitoring in Aftermath of Hurricane Harvey

Press Release From: House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology
Posted: Wednesday, March 6, 2019

Today, Chairwoman Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-TX) with Environment Subcommittee Chair Lizzie Fletcher (D-TX) and Investigations and Oversight Subcommittee Chairwoman Mikie Sherrill (D-NJ)sent letters to EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine, and Texas’ Commission on Environmental Quality Toxicology Division Director Michael Honeycutt requesting all documents prepared or received in relation to the decision making process that prevented the NASA Atmospheric Tomography Mission from participating in the post-hurricane response to the Houston area in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. An articlereleased by the LA Times yesterday reported that both the state of Texas and the EPA told NASA scientists who were preparing to sample air pollution levels over the hurricane zone that the data would not be useful and may cause confusion.

 

“Hurricane Harvey was one of the largest disasters the State of Texas has ever faced. Massive flooding and wind damage caused intense suffering for the people of the Houston area. That suffering was apparently compounded by the release of toxic chemicals from the Houston area’s many industrial areas and Superfund sites,” the Chairs said in the letter.

 

They continued, “Instead of gathering the most accurate air quality data possible, State and Federal officials apparently decided they would rather not know about potential toxic chemical releases that could have been impacting our communities and first responders. If this is true, it is not only an embarrassment, it is unacceptable.”

A copy of the full letter to EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler can be found here.

A copy of the full letter to NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine can be found here.

A copy of the full letter to Texas’ Commission on Environmental Quality Toxicology Division Director Michael Honeycutt can be found here.

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