EPA approves Michigan plan to forgive $21M in Flint debts

EPA approves Michigan plan to forgive $21M in Flint debts
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The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) on Tuesday concurred with a Michigan plan to forgive $20.7 million in federal drinking water fund debts owed by Flint, Mich.

The step comes as the EPA and the federal government make amends for the city’s drinking water crisis. The government approved $100 million in emergency funding for the city in March, and a government spending bill signed by President Trump in May directed the EPA to grant requests to forgive Flint's Drinking Water State Revolving Fund debts.

Flint's residents had been exposed to high levels of lead in the town's drinking water stemming from a 2014 decision to switch the source of the drinking water to the Flint River.

“Forgiving Flint’s past debt will better protect public health and reduce the costs associated with maintaining the city’s water system over time,” EPA Administrator Scott PruittEdward (Scott) Scott PruittOvernight Energy: EPA official steps down after indictment on ethics charges | Sanders to hold town hall on climate | Zinke slams 'environmental radicals' for fires Trump EPA official resigns after indictment on ethics charges Overnight Energy: Trump to nominate Wheeler as EPA chief | House votes to remove protections for gray wolves | Lawmakers aim to pass disaster funds for California fires MORE said in a statement. “Forgiving the city’s debt will ensure that Flint will not need to resume payments on the loan, allowing progress toward updating Flint’s water system to continue.”

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Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder (R) said the loan forgiveness “will allow for state funding to be spent on high priority infrastructure needs that maintain recent water quality improvements and address public health concerns.”

Flint had incurred the debt through four loans issued by the Drinking Water State Revolving Fund between 1999 and 2003. Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality formally requested loan forgiveness for the city in May, the Flint Journal reported then.

The Drinking Water State Revolving Fund is an EPA program to provide federal funding to support upgrades to state and local drinking water systems.

—Updated at 4:28 p.m.