House watchdogs slam EPA, Snyder for Flint response

House watchdogs slam EPA, Snyder for Flint response
© Greg Nash

Top members of the House Oversight Committee on Thursday slammed federal and state officials' response to the crisis in Flint, Mich. 

Lawmakers probed and criticized Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) chief Gina McCarthyRegina (Gina) McCarthyOvernight Energy: Senate Dems introduce Green New Deal alternative | Six Republicans named to House climate panel | Wheeler confirmed to lead EPA Overnight Energy: Joshua Tree National Park lost M in fees due to shutdown | Dem senator, AGs back case against oil giants | Trump officials secretly shipped plutonium to Nevada Overnight Energy: Ethics panel clears Grijalva over settlement with staffer | DC aims to run on 100 percent clean energy by 2032 | Judges skeptical of challenge to Obama smog rule MORE for their reactions to the lead water crisis as they testified before the committee.  

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It was the first time lawmakers have heard from Snyder, whose administration’s role in causing and responding to the crisis has been roundly criticized.

Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), the ranking member of the committee, lambasted the governor. 

“There will now be an entire generation of children who suffer from brain damage, learning disorders, and many other horrible effects of lead poisoning that were afflicted on them by Gov. Snyder’s administration,” he said.

“I agree the EPA should have done more. They should have rushed in sooner to rescue the people of Michigan from Gov. Snyder’s vindictive administration and his utter incompetence at every level,” Cummings added.

Oversight Chairman Jason ChaffetzJason ChaffetzHouse Dems seek to make officials feel the pain Lawmakers contemplate a tough political sell: Raising their pay Top Utah paper knocks Chaffetz as he mulls run for governor: ‘His political career should be over’ MORE (R-Utah), trained his criticisms on the EPA, which knew about the threat to Flint’s drinking water months before citizens of the city did. He cited an email in which an EPA official said, “I’m not so sure Flint is the community we want to go out on a limb for.”

“It’s one of the most offensive, concerning things I’ve seen, that there were people — more than one — making decisions and thinking maybe 'Flint isn’t the community we should go out on a limb for,' ” he said. “Are you kidding me? Of all the communities out there, Flint is the number one place that that they should go out on a limb for.”

Snyder has apologized for the Flint crisis and has long blamed a “failure of government at all levels” for causing it, a statement he will make to the committee on Thursday.

Chaffetz and Cummings said their goal was to further sort out responsibility for the crisis. 

“I’ve seen a lot of things before the committee, but the lack of action here, the lack of letting people know so they could make an informed decision is very concerning, it’s very concerning,” Chaffetz said.