Harvey relief efforts must include local Superfund sites

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 Sun here.

Post-Hurricane Harvey: Rebuilding for the Future

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.

before and after views of Port Aransas
Aransas Pass before and after Hurricane Harvey, August 2017. Credit: NOAA

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.

Hurricane Harvey’s impact forces us to think about how we rebuild better, stronger, and smarter

Hurricane Harvey
Hurricane Harvey, 25 August 2017, Credit: NASA

Hurricane Harvey’s devastation left me speechless

There was a point over this last week when I was speechless: the rain, the damage, the rescues, the deaths in Houston, Port Arthur, Orange and Beaumont, not to mention the chemical plant explosion in Crosby.

If you got emotional, I understand. I did too.

 

 

The impact of Harvey forces us to think about how we rebuild better, stronger, and smarter.

 

Cities large and small require assistance—quickly—to meet basic needs

The President will be in Houston on Saturday and I expect him to show empathy for Texans and give us a concrete timetable for when resources from DC will start to arrive. We need billions of dollars to rebuild our communities—and not just the big cities. There are portions of our area that still don’t have the basics of living—clean water and sewage systems and communications systems, for example, more than 12 years after Hurricane Rita.

It is time to hold our elected representatives accountable

We want a swift and substantial Hurricane Harvey recovery bill passed immediately; it should be the first thing Congress does when it reconvenes in September.  Anything else will be an insult to everything we have dealt with over the past week, and the weeks and months to come.  We need to mitigate loss, and we need to rebuild with an emphasis on the future.

Rebuild to protect our communities and our economy

I am an environmental consultant by trade; a scientist by training. There are things we can do in the rebuilding that will protect our communities, help us meet the challenges of the 21st century, and put people to work.  That’s what I will do when I represent you in Congress.

Thinking of all those whose lives have been turned upside down by Harvey.

I had an important letter to the editor published in the Orange Leader before the storm.  Check it out if you have a moment.

Why I Am Running for Congress

My name is Jon Powell, and I am a candidate for U.S. Congress in the 36th district here in southeast Texas.   

A little about me

I am a husband and father, a scientist and a geologist. I have my own environmental and management consulting business and I have worked with companies here and across the globe.

We moved to Taylor Lake Village in 1988 when Cindy Evans, my wife, got a job at NASA.  We spawned two native Texan sons, now grown up and on their own. We raised them surrounded by the friendship of our community.  Each of or family members is committed to public service and giving back to others in our community.  I have served as City Councilman and Mayor of Taylor Lake Village. Cindy has been on the police commission. Our boys have volunteered and worked to serve the public since they were little kids.

2018 is a pivotal election for this district and our country

We need to get the government back on track where it was intended—to serve the good of the people and provide opportunity for all.  This will take new leadership—here and in congressional races across the country—so we can put the country back on the path of investing in America so we can make a brighter future—for our kids and grandkids. 

Put real voices in Congress

I’m running for Congress to help put real voices in Congress so we can implement policies that help us build an economy that works for everyone—for people living in the more populated areas along the coast to those in the rural areas in the piney forests of East Texas. 

We need someone to build a positive and practical agenda that will help lift us up.
I am the person to do this. 

With your help, we can make this happen.  Will you donate $25, $50 or $100 TODAY so we can have the resources to talk to voters across the district?

With your help, we can make Texas and our country a better place for our kids and grandkids. 

Air Assault in Houston and Across Texas

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.

Air Assault article by Houston Chronicle

Traffic on I-45 in Houston's Central Business District
Photo: Yi-Chin Lee, Houston Chronicle

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.

Houston Chronicle Business Columnist Calls for Healthcare for All

Chris Tomlinson, taking a pragmatic analysis of the healthcare situation in the US concludes that, “Someday, Americans will realize what other countries have concluded: Health care is like the military, police and fire services. It should be paid for with taxes and carefully regulated.”

If the Republicans in Congress and Trump in White House can’t come to an agreement on how to improve America’s health care system, perhaps it is time to take an approach that ensures care for all.

Tomlinson Houston Chronicle Business Article

When a Scientist Leaves the Lab to Run for Office

Jon Powell, a scientist and small business owner, decided he had to run for Congress after the 2016 election because the elected representatives in Washington were failing America. He saw this especially in Texas Congressional District 36, which runs from Houston/Clear Lake area across nine SE Texas counties (Chambers, Jasper, Hardin, Harris, Liberty, Newton, Orange, Polk and Tyler) – a region that needs much more than failed representative Brian Babin. Babin, favoring ill-conceived policies of the past instead of representing the interests of Texas voters, is simply not the problem-solver we need for our communities, energy industries, aerospace leadership and bottom line, creating good jobs.

Like other many scientists across the country (see LA Times article about scientists running for office) , Jon Powell knows practical, logical approaches can be applied to our country’s gnawing problems. And based on decades of working in groups to solve complex, technical issues, Jon knows that research and analysis, solution testing, talking to voters and cooperative efforts will lead to the prosperous future we need in SE Texas.

Like most scientists, Jon Powell’s not a slick story teller, he’s a “let’s sit down, talk this through, and reason it out” problem-solver.

Jon Powell Announces Candidacy for U.S. Representative, Texas Congressional District 36

“We need a representative who actually works for the people.”

Jon Powell for Congress, Texas Congressional District 36

With that observation, Jon Powell, former Mayor of Taylor Lake Village, announces his run for U.S. Congress to represent all of Congressional District 36 of Texas.

Jon, a geologist and small business owner, has a long career working with energy and chemical companies to improve their environmental and safety performance.

People tell Jon that the residents of Texas’ 36th Congressional District and the country need a representative who uses facts and reason to direct America’s resources and programs to benefit everyone. Jon will be that representative.

“My past public service and solid professional technical experience are proof that I’ll hit the ground running for voters across Southeast Texas, from our small towns all the way to Houston,” Jon stated.

Read the full press release: jon-powell-announces-candidacy-us-congress-texas-district-36.