Sanders, Clinton: EPA must be held accountable for Flint

Sanders, Clinton: EPA must be held accountable for Flint
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Democratic presidential candidates Bernie SandersBernie SandersOvernight Energy: Trump orders review of national monuments, claiming ‘egregious abuse’ Dem rep: Trump's tax plan as believable as 'magic, unicorns or Batman' Sanders: Trump tax plan makes 'rigged' system 'worse' MORE and Hillary ClintonHillary Rodham ClintonLawmakers targeted as district politics shift Want a tremendous deal on infrastructure spending? Suspend Davis-Bacon Constitutional amendment could vastly improve campaign finance MORE agreed Sunday to hold top federal environmental regulators responsible for the Flint, Mich., water crisis.

Asked about the role the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) played in the crisis in Flint — and whether top officials there should lose their job because of it — Clinton vowed to continue an  investigation to determine who knew what about the crisis and why the agency didn’t act sooner when it determined the water there wasn’t safe to drink.

“I was told some of the higher-ups were pushing to get changes that were not happening, so I would have a full investigation to determine who knew what, when, and, yes, people should be fired,” she said during a Democratic presidential debate in the city.

“How far up it went, I don’t know, but as far as it goes, they should be relieved because they failed this city.”

Sanders said a “President Sanders would fire anybody who know about what was happening and did not act appropriately.” He also tied the Flint crisis to his campaign’s broader economic theme.

“President Sanders would make the point that how does it happen in the wealthiest country in the history of the world, what are our priorities,” he said.

“Among others, Republicans today are fighting for hundreds of billions of dollars in tax breaks for the wealthiest people. How did we have so much money available to go to war in Iraq and spend trillions of dollars and somehow not have enough money not just for Flint” but other communities around the country, he asked.

The EPA knew about the problems that led to the toxic lead contamination in Flint’s water supply as early as April of last year, well before the public was alerted about.

The agency said it did what the law required it to do, by notifying local officials about the threat, but it never released the information publicly. The House last month passed a bill that would require the EPA to release information about unsafe lead levels in the future.

The regional head of the EPA, Susan Hedman, resigned from the agency in January. She and EPA Administrator Gina McCarthyGina McCarthyBusiness leaders must stand up and 'March for Science' on Saturday Trump isn't saving the coal industry. He's letting it compete. EPA chief: ‘Help is on the way’ for farmers MORE will testify before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee on the crisis later this month.