Dems offer bill to expand EPA lead warnings in response to Flint

Dems offer bill to expand EPA lead warnings in response to Flint
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Top Democrats from Michigan's congressional delegation have introduced a bill to expand lead poisoning notifications in the wake of the water crisis in Flint, Mich.

The bill, from Sens. Debbie StabenowDeborah (Debbie) Ann Stabenow10 Senate Democrats are up for reelection in Trump country At least Alzheimer’s research is bringing Washington together Senate Dems block crackdown on sanctuary cities MORE and Gary PetersGary Charles PetersOvernight Finance: Senate rejects Trump immigration plan | U.S. Bancorp to pay 0M in fines for lacking money laundering protections | Cryptocurrency market overcharges users | Prudential fights to loosen oversight Senators introduce bill to help businesses with trade complaints Trump spars with GOP lawmakers on steel tariffs MORE and Rep. Dan KildeeDaniel (Dan) Timothy KildeeDemocrat to bring anti-gun violence pastor to State of the Union Peters passes on run for Michigan governor Flint lawmaker pushes bill to lower lead levels in drinking water MORE, all Democrats, would direct the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to notify the public and local health departments if the amount of lead found in public water systems warrants action, if the state hasn't already sent a notification.

Lead levels in Flint spiked after the city switched its drinking water source from the Detroit municipal supply to a local river. 

The EPA knew about the threat for elevated lead levels related to the change, and officials told the state to take precautions, but the agency wasn’t required to take any additional action. The state never warned local residents about potential health risks related to the water.

The Flint situation led to the resignation of the EPA’s regional head last week. The agency said it “worked within the framework of the law to repeatedly and urgently communicate the steps the state needed to take to properly treat its water,” but “those necessary actions were not taken as quickly as they should have been.”

In a Wednesday statement, the Michigan Democrats said the EPA should have the power to publicly notify local residents and regulators if drinking water poses a health risk due to lead. 

"When the people of Flint raised concerns about the safety of their water, the EPA tested that water and found that it was dangerous to drink," Stabenow said. 

"The State of Michigan chose to criticize and ignore those findings, which has caused irreversible harm to potentially a generation of children. This bill will give the EPA clear legal authority to provide notice to the public when a state is not taking action on a public health safety crisis."