By Timothy Cama - 01/27/16 11:52 AM EST
Environmental and human rights groups are suing officials in Michigan, saying they aren’t doing enough in response to the drinking water crisis in the city of Flint.
The groups want a federal court to compel the city and state to replace all lead water pipes in Flint and to otherwise comply with the Safe Drinking Water Act.
“We are asking a federal court to step in because the people of Flint simply cannot rely on the same government agencies that oversaw the destruction of its infrastructure and contamination of its water to address this crisis,” she added.
“Flint is Exhibit A for what happens when a state suspends democracy and installs unaccountable bean counters to run a city,” said Michael Steinberg, legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan, which joined the environmental group in the litigation.
Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder’s (R) administration has estimated that replacing the city’s lead pipes would cost $55 million.
At a news conference Wednesday, Snyder declined to speak about the litigation.
“Our focus now is taking care of the citizens of Flint,” he said. “We’ll properly answer any lawsuit filed, but let’s care of the people of Flint.”
Snyder has taken responsibility and apologized for the high lead levels in Flint’s water, caused by a switch in the drinking water source that was pushed by state officials.
But Snyder has also sought to point the finger at his Department of Environmental Quality, Flint leaders and the federal Environmental Protection Agency.
Snyder has asked Michigan’s legislature to appropriate $28 million to deal with the Flint crisis, $3 million of which would go to utility repairs.