Energy & Environment

EPA chief: Agency reassessing Flint response

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The head of the Environmental Protection Agency said she and other officials are reassessing the agency’s response to the Flint, Mich., water crisis after a top Republican called for her to resign over the scandal. 

“Are we doing our job on oversight as effectively as we need to?” Gina McCarthy asked at a Christian Science Monitor event on Tuesday. 

{mosads}“We’re exploring those issues, and our Office of Inspector General is in the middle of doing an investigation that was at my request. They are doing an audit of our entire oversight in the region.”

Critics have charged the EPA with mismanaging the lead contimination problems affecting the Flint water supply, saying it was too slow in working with its regulatory partners and not open enough publicly to help residents in the city. 

The agency has said it did what it was it was supposed to do when alerted about the crisis, urging state and local officials to move more quickly to address it. Michigan officials have the primary regulatory responsibility over cities’ water, and McCarthy has said those officials weren’t forthcoming about the scope of Flint’s problems.

“I wasn’t trying to deflect blame — simply get all the facts on the table that it was clearly Michigan and the emergency manager that made decisions that didn’t make sense,” she said. 

“We did not catch those decisions as quickly as we would like, we didn’t have the information — we were mislead — but whether or not we should have caught it earlier is a question I think we need to be accountable for.”

McCarthy testified on the Flint crisis during a House Oversight Committee hearing in March. Chairman Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) suggested at the hearing that she resign her position because, he said later, “she has no confidence from me and I think a lot of members of Congress.”

“It was a difficult hearing,” McCarthy said on Tuesday. “I think the challenge for me was recognizing that we should be scrutinized and accountable in terms of whether or not we should have seen there was a problem there despite Michigan’s assurance there wasn’t.”

Tags Environmental Protection Agency Flint Flint water crisis Gina McCarthy Jason Chaffetz Michigan

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