The Latest: Governor: State agency misled him on Flint water

AP News
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Posted: Mar 16, 2016 5:55 PM

TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. (AP) — The Latest on the lead contamination of Flint's drinking water (all times local):

5:45 p.m.

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder says a lead-contamination water crisis in Flint, Michigan, represents "a failure of government at all levels."

But Snyder plans to tell Congress that the main culprit in the manmade disaster is a state agency he oversees. He says the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality repeatedly assured him and other officials that water from the Flint River was safe, when in reality it had dangerous levels of lead.

Snyder, a Republican, says in prepared testimony that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency also made mistakes. He says top officials silenced an EPA water expert who tried to raise alarms about Flint's water.

Snyder is set to testify Thursday before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. The Associated Press obtained a copy of his testimony in advance.

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5:15 p.m.

Emails obtained by The Associated Press show U.S. Environmental Protection Agency chief Gina McCarthy warned last fall that the Flint drinking water crisis could get "very big very quickly."

McCarthy's reaction, in a Sept. 26 message to some top staffers, was to a report from Susan Hedman, head of EPA's regional office in Chicago. That told of findings by university researchers and local doctors of high lead levels in the city's water and in some children's blood.

It was among 1,200 pages of emails The AP obtained Wednesday under a Freedom of Information Act request.

The EPA has been criticized for not treating the situation urgently enough. In the September emails, McCarthy urged aides to seek ways to intervene.

She is scheduled to testify Thursday before a U.S. House committee.

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12 p.m.

Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder says the Obama administration has denied a request for money to help Flint households with the crisis caused by lead-tainted drinking water.

Snyder said in a release Wednesday the Federal Emergency Management Agency rejected his request for funding through emergency protective measures and Individuals and Households programs. They would have covered costs of food, water and other needs, as well as help repair water systems.

FEMA earlier approved an emergency declaration to bring up to $5 million in direct funding to Flint. Federal officials denied declaring a disaster, which could have brought millions more.

A disaster declaration is mainly for natural disasters. Snyder appealed and sought funding through other programs.

Snyder says he's disappointed by the denial.

Federal officials have approved and denied other Flint-related requests.