The Houston Hurricane Pollution-Sniffing NASA Flight That Never Took Off

THE HOUSTON HURRICANE POLLUTION-SNIFFING NASA FLIGHT THAT NEVER TOOK OFF A week and a half after Hurricane Harvey hit Houston, as damage to smokestacks, pipelines, and chemical storage tanks were still being assessed, flooded Superfund sites went unmonitored, and clouds of benzene and other chemicals assembled in the skies over the city, the crew of a California-based airborne NASA chemical lab offered to help figure out the state of affairs — by diverting its specially equipped DC-8 from a planned trip to Oklahoma to take measurements in Houston instead. But EPA and TCEQ officials vehemently passed on the offer. An email response from TCEQ air toxicologist Michael Honeycutt noted that “state data showed no sign for concern,” report the L.A. Times‘s Susanne Rust and Louis Sahagun. “We don’t think your data would be useful for source identification while industry continues to restart their operations,” wrote Honeycutt, who the following month was appointed to head the EPA’s Science Advisory Board by President Trump. David Gray, the EPA official in charge of the Harvey emergency response, agreed. Citing emails from Texas officials “stating unambiguously that they do not want NASA to use the DC-8 for any data acquisition,” Michael Freilich, the director of NASA’s Earth Sciences division, called off the mission. [L.A. Times] Photo of Atmospheric Tomography Mission DC-8 interior, September 2017: NASA

8 Comment

  • Outrageous! A clear example of federal and state authorities tying to HIDE THE DANGERS of their lax pollution rules to the public. Anything for business …. to hell with the people

  • No surprise, over the past 2 years the EPA has become a gangster bureaucracy intent on harming the lives of unborn american children. Where’s the pro-life crowd at?

  • Despicable action on EPA/TCEQ’s part. Selling out Texans’ health in the name of a few more dollars for the already-quite-rich.

  • Republican control is such a joke. Profits over people.

  • I for one do not need this flight for confirmation. 4 out of 7 mornings I step out of my home in the Heights to face the odors of pollution smack in my face. We all smell it and enjoy the lovely sunsets.

  • It seems like it’s getting worse. 4 out of 7 mornings when it used to be maybe 2 out of 7. I wonder if it’s because the east downtown coffee plant has been shutdown, no longer masking the more harsher notes.

  • I’m shocked that Joel cares about unborn children. I didn’t think it was a “child” yet. Good for you Joel!

  • Yet another example of why it is wise to short Houston real estate.