EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy calls out MI Republicans for causing Flint water crisis.
"You can't shortchange basic services to our people," President Barack Obama declared when asked about the Flint water crisis. Yet that appears to be exactly what the state of Michigan's GOP-run government did to the children of Flint.
In her letter to the Washington Post, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator Gina McCarthy expressed regret that the EPA didn't do more to prevent the Flint water crisis, but laid most of the blame on a Republican governor (Rick Snyder) and legislature obsessed with slashing budgets regardless of the human costs.
"The crisis is the result of a state-appointed emergency manager deciding that, to save money, Flint would stop purchasing treated drinking water from a source it relied on for 50 years and instead switch to an untreated source. The state of Michigan approved that decision, and it did so without requiring corrosion control. These decisions resulted in Flint residents being exposed to dangerously high levels of lead."
Since Republicans in Washington keep hamstringing the EPA and other federal regulatory agencies, the EPA relies on state governments and agencies to enforce rules like the Safe Drinking Water Act, Gina McCarthy explains:
The EPA's relationship with states under the act is usually a strong and productive partnership. But looking back on Flint, it is clear that, from day one, Michigan did not act as a partner. The state's interactions with us were dismissive, misleading and unresponsive. The EPA's regional office was also provided with confusing, incomplete and incorrect information.
Gina McCarthy then goes on to describe a feckless Gov. Rick Snyder and his Republican junta's dodgy money management, callous decision-making, disregard for federal laws and citizens' right to clean drinking water, refusal to cooperate with the EPA, and general lack of responsibility.
Michigan Republicans try to deny causing the Flint water crisis through their callous budget-cutting.
Yet Republicans are still desperately trying to avoid blame for the destructive and cruel decisions that led to a generation of lead-poisoned children in the city of Flint. At first, Rick Snyder refused to even testify at the upcoming Flint water crisis hearings in Congress (he has since changed his mind and is making his appearance this week).
There's a tweet going around with an image of an email being used to blame the EPA for the Flint water crisis. Yet it seems that the reason the EPA official in question says she's "not so sure" she wants to "go out on a limb" for the city of Flint is because she doesn't understand "where all that money went" (in regards to a DWSRF grant from the EPA to ensure clean drinking water) due to the lack of information Gina McCarthy describes, not necessarily because she doesn't want to help the people of Flint.
The emergency managers of Flint (first Mike Brown and then Darnell Early) were the ones responsible for providing the information the above official, Debbie Baltazar, apparently did not receive.
Gina McCarthy also warns that if we don't start funding repairs and upgrades for our aging and long-neglected water infrastructure, the Flint water crisis may prove a terrifying vision of a future Republican America.
Across the United States, water infrastructure is aging, antiquated and severely underfunded - particularly in low-income communities. This threatens citizens' access to safe drinking water - an essential for every human being on Earth.
When state and city budgets get slashed, funding for environmental programs is too often the first to suffer […} Serious and strategic investments are needed over the next 20 years to maintain, upgrade and replace thousands of miles of service pipes and thousands of treatment plants, storage tanks and water distribution systems - all of which are vital to public health and the economy. The longer we wait, the more expensive these needs will become.
Alas, things don't look very hopeful. In a video explaining how the Flint water crisis happened, Vox shows a clip of a telling interview with Mike Brown, the Emergency Manager appointed by Gov. Rick Snyder. Back in 2011, Flint was broke and on the hook for $1.1 billion in pensions for its workers (pensions these workers - like most city workers - had earned and contributed to in lieu of Social Security).
Brown then made it very clear that he cares about cutting costs more than he does about providing basic services to people.
"I think what we have to do is look at the expense side first. There could be services we can no longer provide in the city."
How did the GOP go from being the pro-business party of financial responsibility, rugged individualism and "traditional" values - which I never agreed with, but could respect - to becoming a ruthless and irresponsible cartel that poisons an entire city full of children?
Watch: Vox explains how the Flint water crisis happened in just three minutes.
Featured image/composite: Official photo of Gov. Rick Snyder; cc 2013 Nutrition Facts.Org with alterations to the water in the glass.