Democrat criticizes EPA over access to water summit

Democrat criticizes EPA over access to water summit
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Rep. Dan KildeeDaniel (Dan) Timothy KildeeWorking Families Tax Relief Act would help millions join middle class Democrats see whistleblower report as smoking gun Whistleblower fuels impeachment talk MORE (D), who represents Flint, Mich., said a staffer was not allowed in to a portion of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) summit on drinking water contamination this week.

“My staff was not allowed to attend today’s @EPA #PFAS summit, and I represent communities affected by drinking water contamination,” Kildee tweeted Wednesday. “@EPAScottPruitt’s lack of transparency and willingness to deny access to Members of Congress and the media is deeply troubling.”

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Peter Grevatt, the EPA’s director of Ground Water and Drinking Water, said in a statement that the second day of the National Leadership Summit on per- and polyfluoroalkyl (PFAS) was not meant for congressional staff.

EPA staff in an email to Kildee’s staff, among others, last week specified that Wednesday was "limited to federal agency folks and states," Grevatt said.

“The first day of EPA’s National Leadership Summit was open to a wide range of groups, including the press, and allowed the opportunity for stakeholders to present concerns and discuss the most pressing needs in addressing PFAS and protecting public health," Grevatt said. "Both state and federal officials had the expectation that the second day of the Summit would be a government-to-government discussion between federal and state co-regulators who are working together to address this important issue.”

Kildee’s chief of staff, Mitchell Rivard, told The Hill on Thursday that the staffer who handles Flint's water contamination issue was barred from entering on the second day. 

“Congressman Kildee was never invited to the EPA’s PFAS summit,” Rivard said in a statement. “After our office asked to attend, the EPA would only allow our office to attend select parts of the summit, and one of the congressman’s staff was actually turned away at the door during Wednesday’s sessions.”

Rivard told The Hill that the incident is part of a larger issue of EPA Administrator Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittSierra Club sues EPA over claim that climate change 'is 50 to 75 years out' EPA on 'forever chemicals': Let them drink polluted water EPA moving ahead with science transparency rule by 'early next year' MORE attempting to “limit access at a taxpayer-funded meeting.”

“The public has a right to know what’s happening inside their government,” Rivard said.

The EPA's limits on access to the summit already made headlines on Tuesday when a reporter from the Associated Press, Ellen Knickmeyer, was allegedly physically barred from entering the event by an EPA guard.

Following media outrage, journalists were allowed to enter the second half of the hearing but were still banned from attending the second day. 

In an op-ed published in The Detroit Free Press on Thursday, Kildee wrote that these two actions by Pruitt’s EPA “are deeply troubling.”

The city of Flint has battled a water crisis since April 2014 when the water supply was switched from Lake Huron to the Flint River, leading to lead poisoning from the city’s water pipe delivery system. 

Officials declared the water safe to drink last month and will no longer deliver free bottled water to residents.