House panel subpoenas ex-EPA Midwest chief over Flint water crisis

Reuters News
Posted: Feb 03, 2016 9:48 AM

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. House of Representatives has subpoenaed the former Midwest chief of the Environmental Protection Agency over the Flint, Michigan, drinking water crisis, Representative Jason Chaffetz said on Wednesday.

The panel subpoenaed EPA's Susan Hedman to appear at a deposition in Washington later this month. Hedman, who resigned this week, had played down a memo by an EPA employee that said tests had shown high levels of lead in the city's water, telling Flint and Michigan administrators it was only a draft report.

The EPA has agreed to provide all of Hedman's emails by the end of the week, Chaffetz, who heads the House Oversight panel, said at a hearing on the crisis.

Chaffetz said his panel had also issued a second subpoena to Darnell Earley, who was Flint's state-appointed emergency manager when the city switched from Detroit's system to the Flint River for its water supply.

"Participation in this committee is not optional," Chaffetz said.

Flint, a working-class suburb about an hour north of Detroit, is grappling with the health and political fallout over the switch after the more-corrosive river water put more lead into the system.

Lead is a known toxic agent that can damage the nervous system.

Federal authorities have launched a criminal probe into the contamination. State officials have apologized over the crisis, and U.S. lawmakers are pushing for more federal aid to help the city.

(Reporting by Timothy Gardner; Editing by Susan Heavey and Lisa Von Ahn)