You are here

Lone Star Project Report

Abbott’s Actions BEFORE Hurricane Harvey Make the Disaster Worse

Abbott blocked disclosure of dangerous chemicals and helped insurance companies deny fair storm damage claim payments
Greg Abbott has figured out hurricane photo ops and visibility.  He’s been in front of TV cameras each day of the disaster wearing a sharp looking windbreaker while telling Texans things they are already seeing and hearing on television as though it was breaking news. 
 
However, Abbott clearly underestimated the scale of the Hurricane Harvey disaster.  He caused confusion early on by conflicting with local officials on calls to evacuate, and he was slow to fully mobilize the National Guard, giving the order three days after the hurricane hit. 
 
In short, Abbott’s leadership in a crisis has been underwhelming. Brave volunteers in bass boats have done considerably more to help. 
 
Real Harm from Abbott’s failed leadership
The real damage to Texans is the irresponsible actions taken by Greg Abbott BEFORE Hurricane Harvey brought deadly winds and water.  Abbott removed existing requirements that companies disclose storage of dangerous chemicals.  And, earlier this year, Abbott delivered a special favor to the insurance industry that could cost Texas policy holders billions in insurance damage claims.
 
Abbott ignored an explosion to let companies hide storage of dangerous chemicals.
Late last night in Crosby, TX, just outside of Houston, two explosions were reported at a chemical plant that lost electricity due to the hurricane. Following the explosion, local police were taken to the hospital because the smoke caused by the explosion was irritating their eyes and throats. This morning, the Harris County’s Sheriff said he believed that the fumes following the explosion were “non-toxic.”  Why doesn’t the local sheriff or local reporters know exactly the toxicity of what is coming from the plant? It might be because of Greg Abbott’s decision to allow chemical plants to withhold disclosure of dangerous chemicals stored at their facilities.
A picture of the 2013 West, Texas fertilizer plant explosion
Just a year after the fertilizer plant explosion in West, TX that killed 14 Texans and injured over 100, then Attorney General Greg Abbott ruled that Texans would no longer have access to information about hazardous chemicals stored in their neighborhoods or near their kid’s schools. Abbott ignored what happened in West and sided with chemical companies over Texans. His decision undid years of precedent designed to keep Texans and all Americans safe from dangerous chemicals such as ammonium nitrate. 
 
Abbott pushed and then signed a “sweetheart” insurance bill that hurts Texans who suffer storm damage
While Texans are struggling to find their way to safety from rising flood waters, a bill backed and signed by Greg Abbott is forcing Harvey victims to file claims by midnight tonight.  HB 1774 severely weakens penalties on big insurance companies who fail to properly cover Texas homeowners claims for weather-related damage. The insurance industry-written bill is a huge blow to Texas home and business owners, especially those ravaged by Harvey.  It’s a win for Greg Abbott, who counts insurance interests and other anti-homeowner groups among his strongest backers.