Trump’s EPA Opposed NASA Doing Cancer Research In Texas After Hurricane Harvey: Report

The Los Angeles Times reports that officials at the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) did not want researchers from NASA to check pollution levels — that could lead to cancer — in areas of Houston, Texas that were hit by Hurricane Harvey in 2017.

NASA reportedly proposed flying a DC-8’ “equipped with the world’s most sophisticated air samplers to check the effects of pollution from chemical spills, fires, flooded storage tanks and damaged industrial plants.”

However, the EPA and the state of Texas claimed that “NASA’s data would cause confusion’ and might ‘overlap’ with their own analysis.”

Michael Honeycutt, Texas’ director of toxicology — who once suggested pollution may be beneficial to humans — supported the EPA’s opposition to the NASA plan: “At this time, we don’t think your data would be useful.”

The Los Angeles Times notes “the response stunned NASA scientists, many of whom had flown similar missions in the past, including over the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.”

Scott Frickel, an environmental sociologist from Brown University, criticized the decision by Texas and the EPA:

This is a very clear illustration of the politics of knowledge. The EPA Region 6 and Texas authorities don’t want to know, so they are passing on something really important about urban-scale disasters.

Paul Newman, chief scientist of NASA’s Earth Science Division, said at the time that “NASA does NOT need EPA approval, We certainly should notify and potentially coordinate, but we don’t need approval,” but the science proposal was killed by Michael Freilich, the director of NASA’s Earth Sciences division.

(Sources: Los Angeles Times, The Center for Public Integrity, Photo Credit: Texas Military Department/Flickr)

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