March 6, 2019

TCEQ and EPA Must Answer for Their Willful Negligence in Monitoring Air Quality After Harvey

Statement of Adrian Shelley, Director, Public Citizen’s Texas Office

Note: The Los Angeles Times on Tuesday detailed how the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) – with the backing of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) – rebuffed NASA’s offer to conduct highly sophisticated air quality monitoring in Houston after Hurricane Harvey hit in 2017.

The TCEQ’s decision to refuse federal help in monitoring post-Harvey pollution is deeply disturbing and part of a longstanding pattern of willful negligence by both the EPA and TCEQ.

It is outrageous that both the TCEQ and the EPA – both created to protect the public from the harmful effects of environmental degradation – rejected NASA’s timely and important offer to monitor air quality in highly industrial Houston after a catastrophic hurricane like Harvey.

This willful negligence and head-in-the-sand approach to environmental protection at both the state and federal level poses a direct threat to public health. Texans and Americans deserve better. Both EPA and TCEQ officials must be held accountable for this inexplicable decision in the face of a grave public health threat. We call on the Texas Legislature to investigate who prevented NASA from collecting this crucial data and how to prevent a recurrence.