Houston’s Superfund sites flooded during Hurricane Harvey
Hurricane Harvey flooded tens of thousands of homes–and many Superfund waste sites. Houston’s polluted Superfund sites threatened to contaminate floodwaters (Washington Post, August 29).
Flooded Superfund sites like the San Jacinto Waste Pits spread their pollution onto nearby properties, into the river and the bay. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was not on scene, according to the Associated Press on September 2. The EPA indicated on September 4 that 13 Superfund sites were flooded during Hurricane Harvey (NPR article).
Poisons emitted by industry to our air, water, and soil that can be controlled in normal conditions but have been made exponentially worse by natural disasters like Hurricane Harvey where they cause harm to our families, reduce our property values, and make us all less healthy and prosperous.
Lawmakers must act now to protect people and clean up vulnerable waste sites.
Congress and our state lawmakers must act now to make protection of the people and cleanup of these vulnerable sites a priority. We must demand that disaster recovery funds be allocated to begin this process immediately. Our lawmakers know that even after a site is designated a Superfund site, cleanup can take decades.
Read my full Op Ed article in the Baytown Sunhere.
The Texas Tribune published my op ed piece on September 7 on how to move forward after Hurricane Harvey, and how to prepare for the next big storm.
Invest in real solutions to real problems
How do we rebuild? How do we prepare for the future? To live in the place we all love, we must be willing to invest in solutions to the problems we know exist; we must ensure that Harvey relief makes us whole and gives us the resources to make the Texas Gulf Coast ready for the next hurricane.
A basic function of government is to protect us. Ask yourself if laws and regulations that were in place before Harvey struck made the situation better or worse. Who advocated for those bad policies? Was it the people who have a financial incentive to not spend the necessary funds for protection and their bought-and-paid-for lawmakers? How do we change the debate so we are talking about real solutions to real problems?
Our leaders must work for us
With floodwaters still flowing in parts of Texas, and Hurricane Irma eyeing the U.S. mainland, the current political talk is about tax cuts for the wealthy or the residency status of nearly 800,000 children and young adults. These are not the priorities of folks who lost everything in Winnie, Port Aransas, Orange, Beaumont, and Houston—and many cities in between.
Our leaders must work for us, not for folks who want to avoid paying to do the right thing.
Texas’ 36th District faces unique problems
Our District is unique because of the major concentration of refineries and petrochemical plants, and shipping lanes, along the Texas Gulf Coast. The effects of Hurricane Harvey reached well beyond the Texas borders, impacting 40 percent of the U.S. petrochemicals market (See CNBC, Harvey threatens to choke off supply of critical chemicals , plastics to U.S. manufacturers). Our District is concerned with the effects of storm surge. And southeast Texas has several protected wildlife areas.
I am a geologist by training, an environmental and risk assessment consultant by trade, so I know the unique problems we face as we work to recover. We need to make sure that DC gives us what we need to rebuild, and does it in a way that helps protect from future storms.
President Trump, Congress and the Texas Commission for Environmental Quality are actively working to increase pollution of the air we breathe. In Houston and across Texas we need to protect our children and families from deadly fumes.
Trump and the Republicans in Congress, including Congressional District 36 representative Brian Babin, are axing the EPA’s budget by a third. That means far less enforcement of Clean Air laws, in addition to weakening laws and regulations to clean our air. Likewise, Republican leaders in Texas cut TCEQ’s funds by $6M to cut back enforcement of environmental projection in our communities.
Whether you live in Houston or in Orange, or other small towns or rural areas, the dirty air will find you as it moves across county lines. Support a solid opponent to Brian Babin. Jon Powell has the technical knowledge and experience to stand up to the weak rationals the GOP uses to break down environmental protections of the air we breathe.