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.

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.