Flushed: Michigan EPA Chief Resigns Over Flint Water Fiasco

Matt Vespa
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Posted: Jan 22, 2016 9:30 AM
Flushed: Michigan EPA Chief Resigns Over Flint Water Fiasco

The EPA chief for the state of Michigan has resigned over the recent fallout emanating from Flint, where the city’s water supply has been contaminated by high amounts of lead (via The Hill):

The regional Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) chief responsible for Michigan is resigning amid charges that she did not do enough to prevent the Flint, Mich., drinking water crisis.

Susan Hedman, regional administrator for the EPA’s Chicago-based region 5, submitted her resignation Thursday, effective Feb. 1, the EPA said.

“EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy has accepted given Susan’s strong interest in ensuring that EPA region 5’s focus remains solely on the restoration of Flint’s drinking water,” an EPA spokeswoman said late Thursday.

Hedman told the Detroit News last week that her office knew in April 2015 that Flint’s action to switch its water supply could cause increased pipe corrosion and spiked lead levels.

She did not notify the public or take similar action, instead only pushing Michigan officials to fix the problems, the News said.

Later last year, incidents of lead poisoning among children increased substantially, leading to the crisis.

Gov. Rick Snyder apologized for the situation, while his office released 273 pages of emails on the water situation for the city. It didn’t paint a pretty picture, with Snyder’s chief of staff writing that the Flint crisis wasn’t the state’s responsibility. Yet, there have been gross accusations that this is a Republican scandal. It’s not. In fact, it’s heavily a Democratic one. As National Review aptly noted, the city was no paradise. It had suffered under years of Democratic rule, which left the city in financial ruin. Due to the bankruptcy, Snyder had to appoint an emergency manager, a Democrat, to reorganize the debts. This is where the weak sauce Republican scandal connection is made since the water fiasco occurred during this time:

Before the appointment of the (Democratic) emergency manager, Flint’s elected mayor and city council (Democrats) had decided to sever the city’s relationship with its drinking-water supplier, which was at the time the Detroit water authority. Flint intended to join a regional water authority that would pipe water in from Lake Huron, a project that was scheduled to take three years to come online. In a fit of pique, Detroit (a city under unitary Democratic control) immediately moved to terminate Flint’s water supply, leaving the city high and literally dry.

Flint is a mess made by Democrats, made worse by the Democrats in Detroit, and ignored by the Democrats in the White House. At this point, somebody — no one will quite admit to being the responsible party — decided to rely temporarily on the Flint River. The Democrats in the city government deny responsibility for this; so does Darnell Earley, the Democrat who served as emergency manager. Earley says that the decisions to terminate the Detroit deal and rely temporarily on the Flint River “were both a part of a long-term plan that was approved by Flint’s mayor, and confirmed by a City Council vote of 7–1 in March of 2013 — a full seven months before I began my term as emergency manager.”

Meanwhile, Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality — no hotbed of covert Republican activity — seems at the very least to have suppressed worrisome findings about Flint’s water supply, and may have done worse than that. The federal Environmental Protection Agency — whose Democratic chief was appointed by our Democratic president — knew for months that there were concerns about Flint’s water, and did nothing.

In sum: The Democratic government of a Democratic city destroys that city’s finances so thoroughly that it must go into state receivership; a Democratic emergency manager signs off on a consensus plan to use a temporary water source; the municipal authorities in that Democratic city responsible for treating and monitoring drinking water fail to do their job; a state agency whose employees work under the tender attention of SEIU Local 517 fails to do its job overseeing the local authorities; Barack Obama’s EPA, having been informed about the issue, keeps mum.

The publication did lay some blame on Snyder for being overly bipartisan in this instance, perhaps overlooking better qualified managers with better reform agendas to handle this situation…with an “iron fist.” He did so to make sure the people of Flint were happy with the manager, hence why this appointee had to be a Democrat. At the same time, it cannot be stressed enough that this isn’t a problem born from Republicans in power. There is no scandal, just liberal incompetence. Nevertheless, we shouldn't be shocked if Gov. Snyder testifies before Congress over this mishap next month.