Congressional committee slams state, EPA for mishandling Flint water crisis

Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md.

Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md.

By Steve Neavling
Motor City Muckraker

Congressional members expressed outrage Tuesday over the grave mishandling of the Flint water crisis, saying government at all levels failed residents.

“This was a crime of epic proportions,” Rep. Ted Lieu, D-Calif., said during the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform hearing.

Gov. Rick Snyder is expected to testify Thursday.

Tuesday’s hearing included testimony from Flint Emergency Manager Darnell Earley, former Flint Mayor Dayne Walling, lead expert Marc Edwards and the Environmental Protection Agency Region 5 former director Susan Hedman.

Virginia Tech Professor Marc Edwards.

Virginia Tech Professor Marc Edwards.

Edwards, whose Virginia Tech study revealed dangerous levels of lead in the spring of 2015, said Snyder’s administration and the EPA ignored strong evidence that Flint’s drinking water was contaminated.

“The EPA sat there silent, as the state attacked us for saying the Flint water was not safe to drink,” Edwards said.

Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-NY, said all leaders responsible for ignoring the contaminated water must be held accountable.

“The flint water crisis is a national scandal,” Maloney said. “It cries out for accountability for those responsible.” 

Still, many committee members resorted to partisan bickering. Republicans criticized the EPA, while Democrats blasted Snyder’s administration.

“I think this hearing is going to be known as the great finger-pointing hearing,” Rep. John Mica, R-Fla., said. “It seems that people were asleep at the tap. … The experts seem to have been the citizens in Flint.”

Former Emergency Manager Darnell Earley

Former Emergency Manager Darnell Earley

Earley, who was the emergency manager when the state switched to the Flint River in April 2014, tried to deflect blame, saying his predecessor made the decision to change the water source.

“I have been unjustly vilified,” Earley insisted.

Democrats shot back, saying it was his responsibility to ensure the proper safeguards were in place and that complaints about the water quality were investigated.

Rep. Elijah Cummings said he “almost vomited” when Earley dismissed responsibility.

“It is sickening – all of it,” Cummings said. “You don’t have to be a water treatment expert. A 5-year-old could figure out” there were problems with the water.

When pressed whether he was sorry for not acting sooner, Earley finally suggested he was.

“Yes, I am sorry that Flint residents had to go through this crisis,” Earley said. “I am very remorseful.”

Rep. Brenda Lawrence, D-Southfield.

Rep. Brenda Lawrence, D-Southfield.

Rep. Brenda Lawrence said the state’s emergency manager law is flawed because the safety of residents is a secondary concern.

“You report only to the bottom line and to the governor,” Lawrence said.

The EPA was criticized for failing to take action and for trying to silence one of the agency’s drinking water expert for voicing concerns about the growing crisis.

“There is a special place in hell for actions like this,” Rep. Buddy Carter, R-Ga., said of the EPA’s failure to oversee the crisis.

Hedman, who resigned from the EPA for her role in the crisis, refused to accept blame, saying the state was responsible.

“The EPA had nothing to do with that,” Hedman said of the crisis.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah.

Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah.

Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz , R-Utah, was appalled.

“You still don’t get it,” Chaffetz told Hedman. “You screwed up. You messed up people’s lives.”

Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman, D-NJ, expressed disappointment over the partisan finger-pointing. 

“God knows we haven’t gotten to the bottom of this,” Coleman said.

 

Steve Neavling

Steve Neavling lives and works in Detroit as an investigative journalist. His stories have uncovered corruption, led to arrests and reforms and prompted FBI investigations.

  • Dongald Trumpenis

    Flint’s crisis shows we NEED regulatory agencies like the EPA, only EFFECTIVE versions of the EPA, not the kind of lackadaisical, self-serving idiots we apparently have.

    The GOTP hates the EPA, for NO other reason that it gets in the way of Koch industries and every other polluter doing whatever they want.

    I’ll be tuning in tomorrow to see Snyder get shredded by the (GOP!) rep who was cutting throats yesterday.

  • Harry Palmer

    The Repubs have had it in for the EPA for years, I’m sure they’ll use this hearing (like they always do) to distort the facts, try to lay majority blame on the EPA and white wash Snyder’s policies (which are 100% the MAJOR culprit here).

  • javierjuanmanuel

    ““It is sickening – all of it,” Cummings said. “You don’t have to be a
    water treatment expert. A 5-year-old could figure out” there were
    problems with the water.”

    Then why did non of the full time employees do it. I think the media made a big deal that bought in bulk the chemicals were something like 500 bucks per month ? It was something very affordable, maybe 2000 per month.

    Why did this not get ordered, why did everyone not walk out, if I was working fast food and they were serving rotten food I would have no part of it, the union would have protected these people.

    Who here would work at a doctors office where they reused needles, or work at a oil change place that mixed 1/5 used oil back into oil changes, or do clearly shady stuff like that that you did not even get a cut of the money. It would just make you feel dirty.

    So why did not one employee do anything ?

    • Dongald Trumpenis

      Babbling idiot.

      • javierjuanmanuel

        Answer why no one did anything at the labor level in the water plant? Is it easy abd obvious, but only from the distance in lansing uts obvious.

        They were trained, there are laws to follow, procedures, all written down, they do the same exact thing every day

        • Dongald Trumpenis

          You conveniently ignore the engineer, Del Toral, who TRIED to tell his superiors about the problems, and got reprimanded.

          Does it hurt your brain to be caught in an endless loop of AM radio foolishness?

          • javierjuanmanuel

            Ohh no Reprimanded. He tried to tell, or did tell them. Reprimanded, as in he was talked too, ohh my god no. The horror.

            I do not listen to AM radio thanks.

            Does my boss told me to break the law, and ignore everything i onow about my job work in other areas?

            War crimes ?

            Beating civilians and planting drugs on them. So any cop can do that if his boss said to do it ?

            Serve rotten food at the restaurant. … sorry you got ecoli and it infected your heart, and cost you 200k. My boss told me to do it

          • Dongald Trumpenis

            Back on your meds. The babbling is NOT improving.

          • javierjuanmanuel

            Did he suffer PTSD from the very harshly worded scolding. Did he cry ?

          • javierjuanmanuel

            Did he suffer PTSD from the very harshly worded scolding. Did he cry ?

        • Klann Killa

          As a 20+ year “civil servant”(firefighter), that works for a city(Detroit) that went through the EM thing, I’m telling you FIRSTHAND how it goes. ALL union contracts are null and void. Which means, ALL protections in place- GONE!!! There goes your union protection theory. The EM also has the power to “impose” new work rules. So go right ahead and disobey a DIRECT ORDER, and that pension you worked for is gone. Unless you are ordered to do something morally wrong, or criminal you can refuse, anything short of that falls in the “commanding officer’s” lap. The commanding officer is “The Turd.” He is ultimately RESPONSIBLE!!!! Hopefully I cleared that up for you so that you can stop making such a DAMN FOOL ? out of yourself. Peace ✌?️

    • Donald E. Hodge

      most five year olds , but not you

  • javierjuanmanuel

    “Democrats shot back, saying it was his responsibility to ensure the
    proper safeguards were in place and that complaints about the water
    quality were investigated.”

    Is that in writing somewhere. It seems like it could be, but also seems like it could not.

    I know the people at the water plant have training, and have to do work to strict guidelines. They are supposed to be the experts, they do the same thing everyday for 20-30 years then retire. They seem to be the ones who dropped the ball.

    Did a single person from the water department raise their hand and speak up, quit, go to the media, or do anything ?

    I am thinking the most they did was tell their family not to drink the water, and just showed up for work everyday and did what ever it took to keep the job.

    • Klann Killa

      FOR GOD’S SAKE MAN WTFU!!!! Your ignorance, and denial “is sickening – all of it!!! “A 5 year old could figure this out.” Under the EM law those 20-30 year unionized “civil servants” no longer had the protection of a contract, because it was shredded. Who in their right mind, after working 20-30 years is going to flush their pension down the toilet? Those “civil servants” were ORDERED to do what they did, and if they didn’t, they would be thrown out in the street quicker than YOU would drop to YOUR knees, and blow Donald’s Trumpet ? You can sit here and say all you want how you’d do the right thing blah, blah, blah, but WE ALL know that’s BS, so cut it out. To be truthful, I hate that I engaged you, because I know your next act is to “short circuit”, and to start blowing all kinds of retarded shit outta your mouth. All because you can’t handle the truth, for whatever reason, or just too stupid to realize WHATS REALLY GOING ON. Now sit back folks and watch this ass make a bigger fool of himself ?????

      • Donald E. Hodge

        Oh never Mr. Superior KK. They told him at the Nazi meeting last night how smart and life changing his one sided doggerel is……Say Bigot boy, would you like to buy some world war two style Italian Rifles? Never fired and only dropped once. still got that piano wire,just say the word.

        • javierjuanmanuel

          Kk has the name killa after a group that is exclusively white. He is the hateful one.

          Do you think muck would allow panafrican killer, noi killer, black seperatist killer, black panther killer on here?

          Do you think black panther killer might get some flack for his name?

        • javierjuanmanuel

          Yeah they let tons of latin dudes in klan meetings. Not that i would want to go to one, minus the skin color part you and kk have allot in common with the klan

          • Donald E. Hodge

            Latin? So you are a lier . You stated that you were half Italian and I believe you said half used condom. And on the words of Trumps party your history! Remember brain damage. You are to be judged be the color of your skin if he is elected.you really think because your born here that nothing can happen to you. Tell me? What’s fantasyland like anyways?you even lie to yourself.

      • javierjuanmanuel

        So greed of the worker with no other skills. Got it. Your fellow union government worker brothers.

        The 5 year old statement, logically cannot just indict people in lansing, it has to indict the people most familar with water systems.

        There are 5 agencies overseeing the water, this shows hiw easy it is for big government to fail people.

        That is of course only if you believe flint people were poisoned, and other areas with higher lead levels, magically the people there are fine, healthy, not news worthy

      • Judy Worthington

        Why are you picking on javierjuanmanuel? No need for anger and name calling. Read the Free Press report about the water plant operator.The state LICENSED operator told his boss then dropped it. Shame on him! Not only did he have the full responsibility to treat the water properly but he also had a HUGE MORAL RESPONSIBILITY. He knew he caused the consequent fouling of the water and did nothing more after reporting to his boss. The media and others in the city would have protected him and even if (IF) he were fired, he would have established himself as experienced and trustworthy. No problem being hired, probably at a better place than Flint and Michigan.

        • Klann Killa

          JW, I’m not picking on JJM. If you read his posts you will understand where I am. Everything you just bounced off of me, I thoroughly understand. Try bouncing it off of JJM, then get back at me. Peace ✌?️

    • Klann Killa

      FOR GOD’S SAKE MAN WTFU!!!! Your ignorance, and denial “is sickening – all of it!!! “A 5 year old could figure this out.” Under the EM law those 20-30 year unionized “civil servants” no longer had the protection of a contract, because it was shredded. Who in their right mind, after working 20-30 years is going to flush their pension down the toilet? Those “civil servants” were ORDERED to do what they did, and if they didn’t, they would be thrown out in the street quicker than YOU would drop to YOUR knees, and blow Donald’s Trumpet ? You can sit here and say all you want how you’d do the right thing blah, blah, blah, but WE ALL know that’s BS, so cut it out. To be truthful, I hate that I engaged you, because I know your next act is to “short circuit”, and to start blowing all kinds of retarded shit outta your mouth. All because you can’t handle the truth, for whatever reason, or just too stupid to realize WHATS REALLY GOING ON. Now sit back folks and watch this ass make a bigger fool of himself ?????

    • Donald E. Hodge

      Thank you! oh thank you Mr. Superior! your so smart, your the smartest ever. we are all so small and your just the peachyest!

    • Judy Worthington

      The state LICENSED operator told his boss then dropped it. Shame on him!