Third House panel plans hearing on Flint

Third House panel plans hearing on Flint

The House Energy and Commerce Committee is planning a hearing next month on the drinking water contamination in Flint, Mich.

The hearing is the third to be announced in the House on Flint’s water crisis, following a Wednesday gathering of the House Oversight Committee and a hearing next week hosted by House Democrats.

The Energy and Commerce Committee did not say who will testify or if Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) will be in attendance.

“The situation in Flint, Mich., is unacceptable at all levels and we still have a lot to learn,” Reps. Fred Upton (R-Mich.) and Frank Pallone Jr. (D-N.J.), the panel’s leaders, said in a Friday statement.

“Next month’s hearing seeks to build a better understanding of what we can do to ensure that a crisis of these proportions never happens again, as well as what needs to be done to address the public health and water infrastructure issues in Flint.”

The lead crisis entered the national spotlight in recent months. The city, under control of a Snyder-appointed emergency manager, switched its drinking water supply in April 2014 but never applied proper corrosion controls, causing lead from old pipes to leach into the water.

Congress has been debating what, if anything, it should do to help Flint. Senate Democrats want hundreds of millions of dollars to go to the city to help replace and repair lead pipes, and they blocked passage of a major energy bill Thursday when the GOP did not agree to the request.

Upton and Pallone started investigating the crisis last month, focusing on what the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality have done since early last year, when residents started to sound the alarm about lead levels.

Upton and Rep. Dan Kildee (D-Mich.), a Flint resident, introduced legislation Thursday to require the EPA to disclose major public health concerns, as it did not do in Flint’s case.