Congressional Democrats are launching an investigation into why the EPA stopped NASA from tracking harmful pollution from the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey. The Los Angeles Times reported Tuesday that EPA officials and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality declined a NASA offer to fly a pollution-analyzing jet over the Houston region to help evaluate the environmental effects on locals after the catastrophic 2017 storm. EPA officials argued the data collected by the space agency could cause “confusion” and might “overlap” with their own analysis. “EPA and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality knew air pollution was one of the unseen dangers of Hurricane Harvey, but chose not to use every available tool to discover it,” said Elena Craft, a senior director at the Environmental Defense Fund, which coordinated air-pollution sampling in Houston after Harvey. On Wednesday, members of the House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology sent letters to the EPA, NASA, and Texas environmental officials asking for all documents relating to the agencies’ decision not to fly. “Instead of gathering the most accurate air-quality data possible, state and federal officials apparently decided they would rather not know about potential toxic chemical releases,” committee members wrote.
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