A former EPA chief during the Bush administration claimed Monday that the agency under President Donald Trump’s authority wasn’t prepared to deal with the fallout from Tropical Storm Harvey.
Trump should have focused on appointing regional EPA administrators in the areas Harvey pounded, Christine Todd Whitman told reporters about the president’s response to the massive storm.
“They don’t have the staffing that they need in the agency to be able to respond in the way they normally would, they have career staff.” said Todd Whitman, who led the EPA during former President George W. Bush’s first term.
“You have emergency response personnel. They know their jobs. They will have been out there. It is hampering their work,” she said. “You need somebody to be there encouraging them, telling them where to go, placing them.”
She was responding primarily to news showing that Harvey damaged or flooded 13 toxic waste sites in Texas.
The agency assessed 41 Superfund sites using aerial images, and determined the ones badly affected by the storm, according to an EPA statement issued Sunday. A Superfund site is land that the EPA identifies as contaminated by hazardous waste and is a candidate for immediate cleanup.
The EPA said workers been unable to “safely access the sites” but will make a closer inspection of the area once waters begin receding. It could take 10-15 days for floodwaters to recede.
Harvey made landfall as a Category 4 hurricane Aug. 26 but quickly weakened to a tropical storm after slamming into southeastern Texas. It still dumped more than 20 trillion gallons of water on Texas over the course of a week. The storm settled over Houston for nearly four days before finally moving east toward Louisiana.
Climate scientist Judith Curry believes the massive flooding and torrential rains are almost certainly a result of Harvey’s stalled movement.
“Harvey will be in the record books for almost unbelievable amounts of rainfall,” Curry wrote in a recent blog post. “While there was a large amount of water vapor ingested into Harvey, the huge amounts of rain are associated with Harvey’s stalled movement, while still close enough to the Gulf to continue to suck in moisture.”
Todd Whitman, a former governor of New Jersey, criticized the Trump administration in the past, telling reporters in January that she worries “terribly for the future of my family and families ’round the world,” because of the president’s mission to roll back his predecessor’s climate regulations.
She added that Trump’s policy objectives would essentially buck the advice and counsel of the entire scientific community.
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