US House Considers Flint Water Crisis

On February 3rd, 2016 a hearing of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, Representatives “sharply criticized state and federal regulators for failing to react to warnings of rising lead levels in Flint’s tap water, chastising Michigan officials for not taking adequate steps to protect public health and blasting the federal EPA for not forcing the state’s hand sooner”, according to the Detroit Free Press. Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz, “directed most of his criticism at the Environmental Protection Agency, saying there have been ‘festering’ problems there for years and disputing Deputy Assistant Administrator Joel Beauvais’ contention that responding to the Flint water crisis was the agency’s highest priority.” Meanwhile, other members of the committee “raised questions about the state Department of Environmental Quality’s failure as the agency primarily responsible for Flint’s water to require corrosion control treatments.” The Associated Press noted that much time was devoted to the EPA’s approach and who was to blame for how Flint’s water crisis unfolded.

Huffington Post considered how many “key players” did not attend the hearing, including Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, much to the dismay of Democratic committee members. Also absent was the EPA employee who made the agency and other public officials aware of the lead contaminated municipal water supply, Miguel Del Toral. After being listed as a witness he was “excused because of his close involvement in the ongoing efforts to fix the water in Flint.” Representative Jason Chaffetz has also ordered the federal Marshals Service to track down Flint’s emergency manger, Darnell Earley, who did not report because the subpoena arrived too late.

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