posted at 10:01 am on October 22, 2016 by Jazz Shaw
Back when we first learned about the water crisis in Flint, Michigan we noted the immediate battle of finger pointing which was going on. Despite the fact that virtually all of the local administrators involved in the region were Democrats, liberal observers immediately attempted to lay the blame solely at the doorstep of the only Republican in sight… Governor Rick Snyder. While he quickly admitted that the disaster had taken place on his watch and he would be responsible for addressing it, the question of how it took so long for anyone to inform the public and protect those drinking the water remained. Before very long it became obvious that the EPA had known about the dangerous lead levels in the water months before action was taken and they had been in a running battle with the state Environmental Quality office.
That hasn’t stopped politicians from piling on and continuing to deflect the blame. Now, however, the EPA’s own Inspector General office has concluded an internal investigation and determined what seemed to be obvious all along. The EPA sat on the information for at least six months when they could have been stemming the damage. (NY Times)
In a pointed rebuke to the Environmental Protection Agency, an internal watchdog concluded on Thursday that the agency should have acted more swiftly to warn residents of Flint, Mich., that their water was contaminated with lead.
The report, issued by Arthur A. Elkins Jr., the inspector general for the E.P.A., blamed the federal government for inaction in Flint, echoing the sentiments of many Republicans who have said for more than a year that the agency failed in its oversight role.
Gov. Rick Snyder of Michigan, a Republican, has said that while he accepts his share of blame for the contamination of Flint’s water, he also believes officials on the local and federal levels were partly responsible.
The report is fairly straightforward in its conclusions and offers what seems to be a retread of the same stories we’ve covered in the press since the entire sordid affair began. The EPA was aware of the nature of the problem since the spring of last year and had sufficient evidence to move forward with federal action in the form of an emergency order under the Safe Drinking Water Act by June. As early as April they had discovered that the water from the new source wasn’t having a needed anti-corrosion agent added to it, the factor which proved to be the key fault leading to the lead contamination.
As we discussed back in January, the EPA’s Miguel Del Toral had sent a memo putting the pieces of the puzzle together before summer began, but infighting at the EPA over how to deal with state officials led to zero action on their part for an additional seven months. All of that time the EPA knew about it and could have warned the public. For that matter, they could have warned the Governor so that action could have been taken sooner, but nothing was said.
Gina McCarthy has consistently maintained that she was “repeatedly misled” by state officials and she regrets not having told anyone sooner, but this report from her own Inspector General contradicts her claims. They had the information in their hands and even if the local EPA office was fighting over it, her people in Washington could have made the call and at least issued an emergency advisory so protective action could have been taken. So will anyone at the EPA wind up being held accountable for this or will the Obama administration allow political motivations to see this swept under the rug as Democrats (including Hillary Clinton) continue to blame the Governor?
Given the recent track record of this crew I think we already know the answer to that one.