The water crisis in Flint, Michigan is a horrific disaster, yet the situation is particularly appalling as it could have easily been prevented if Michigan’s leadership had been proactive about the issue in the past year.
Michigan’s governor, Rick Snyder, is largely to blame—after receiving multiple complaints from concerned citizens, he and other state officials did nothing to address the issue.
Snyder recently released over 274 pages of emails that prove to be pretty damning. In September 2015, after doctors warned the state about toxic levels of lead in Flint’s water supply, Snyder’s Chief of Staff Dennis Muchmore brushed off any responsibility, writing that, “The real responsibility rests with the county, city and KWA [Karegnondi Water Authority].” Yet he also acknowledged that it was state officials who made the final call in regards to switching Flint’s water supply from Lake Huron to the Flint River.
In terms of concealing the extent of the problem, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) was concerned about Flint’s water back in February 2015. They asked Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) if Flint possessed a corrosion control program, to which the DEQ responded it had an “optimized program.”
Yet two months later, in April 2015, the DEQ claimed it was not doing corrosion control, but was monitoring lead contamination for two six-month periods. If they detected corrosion, they would then decide how to handle it.
The EPA denounced this as irresponsible. In a statement to NBC News, they declared that, “[the] EPA's ability to oversee [state] management of that situation was impacted by failures and resistance at the state and local levels to work with us in a forthright, transparent and proactive manner.”
Snyder has acknowledged his failures as a leader.
"Government failed you — federal, state and local leaders — by breaking the trust you placed in us," he said in his State of the State Address. "You deserve better. You deserve accountability. You deserve to know that the buck stops here with me. Most of all, you deserve to know the truth.”
In this case, the truth doesn’t look so great for Snyder.
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