Flint Water Advisory Task Force issues final report – yet another government failure?

The Flint Advisory Task Force had three main charges to accomplish.

  • determine the cause of the crisis
  • identify remedial measures
  • safeguard Michigan residents

They failed in their primary task of identifying the cause. Safeguarding residents? A bit late for that wouldn’t you say? You can read the report here.

I only wish to highlight two key points as everything else has been covered ad nauseam. There is a tremendous push to assign blame to the emergency managers. Primarily this is coming from those who wish to repeal the emergency manager law in Michigan. That’s a debate for another day. As far as how it impacted the Flint water crisis, the answer is not at all. Detractors will point out that the emergency managers approved the switch to Flint River water. Doesn’t matter. There isn’t a reason in the world that the Flint River can’t be utilized as a safe source of drinking water. The key, of course, is proper treatment. Treatment is a subject the emergency managers or the Flint City Council play no role in whatsoever. The mere fact that anyone approved the switch is just semantics. Had the Flint Water Plant properly treated the water this story would have never happened. Bureaucrats shouldn’t receive any of the blame or credit for the end product delivered to residents.

The second point is absolving the City of Flint from its position as the primary cause of the crisis. This point bears repeating as no one is discussing it. The EPA sets the rules regarding safe delivery of drinking water. They assign responsibilities throughout the process. In EVERY case, it is the responsibility of the water utility to provide safe drinking water. NOT the regulatory authority. Agencies that oversee water utilities certainly have a responsibility to do their best to ensure laws, regulations and standards are followed. But it is the utility itself that bears the responsibility. there are many analogies one could make to illustrate this. Take your taxes. Make a mistake on your taxes and you are held responsible, not your tax preparer. Find a major defect in a home you just purchased and your home inspector you paid to find such things is not on the hook. In virtually any industry you can imagine, inspectors and other compliance type entities are always tasked with the responsibility to enforce, but never with primary responsibility when you don’t.

The fact is that the City of Flint should have properly treated the water. Bad advice from consultants or regulatory agencies doesn’t absolve them of the blame. The point can’t be overstated because liability is paramount. However, this is where the water gets muddy. The Flint Water Advisory Task Force makes the point that “Flint Public Works personnel failed to comply with LCR requirements, including the use of optimized corrosion control treatment and monitoring for lead”. Or did they? I refer you back to my post from Feb. 15, 2016. In it, I covered the EPA memo that was issued to help clear up the confusion in Flint. The EPA admitted that the LCR (Lead and Copper Rule) has differing possible interpretations. The EPA wants it both ways. They state that corrosion control should be maintained at all times. Yet they also say a utility should NOT use the same treatment when changing sources. First, a monitoring period must be conducted to determine the optimal process.

Basically, you can’t win. The EPA says you are responsible at all times no matter what. Yet they admit confusion and the LCR contains language in direct contradiction from one section to another. So at the end of the day the burden lies at the feet of the City of Flint and ultimately the EPA. Unfortunately, that isn’t where the focus will be. The state of Michigan blames the DEQ. Congressional democrats blame the Governor. Congressional republicans blame the EPA. They are right but are disregarded as partisan hacks intent on poisoning the air, water and soil.

The bottom line? Will the Flint water crisis fallout result in preventing a similar incident in the future? Not likely. Assigning blame to the proper recipients doesn’t seem to be on the agenda. Assigning blame for partisanship and maximizing taxpayer dollars does. Business as usual in government.

The Obama not in labor force record now exceeds the population of 33 states!

The Obama economy continues to break all-time records.

Record Average of 93,671,000 Americans Not in Labor Force in 2015

Average participation rate lowest since 1977
Very impressive! So much so that it’s time to update our post from 2012.

Number of Americans no longer looking for work exceeds the total population of 32 States

Yes sir, we can now add another state to the mix. The big winner? Washington! Yes, the entire population of the state of Washington has now been added to raise our total to 33 states. That’s the ENTIRE population of 33 states that are no longer even looking for work! That’s an economy to be proud of isn’t it democrats?

The answers to the Flint Congressional testimony before it even happens

Tuesday, March 15th, another round of testimony begins on the Flint water crisis in front of the U.S. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee. Michigan Governor Rick Snyder and former Flint Emergency Manager Darnell Earley are scheduled to testify among others. Current Flint Mayor Karen Weaver has a wish list.

“We’re looking for the questions that will give us the answers to who should be held accountable … across all levels.”

We can answer those questions right now without waiting for tomorrow’s tap dance around them. Who should be held accountable? First and foremost, the city of Flint. That’s not the direction the mayor or the ever growing list of celebrities and activists want to go. They, as well as all leftists and other fans of ever expanding government, need Flint to be the victim. That’s the only way to keep the spigot open for federal relief dollars to pour into a dizzying array of social programs, education programs, health and welfare programs, infrastructure programs and legal funds, etc. If the truth is promoted and Flint is found to be the primary cause of its own problems, that tends to limit relief funds to local and state levels at far less amounts. The international feelings of sorrow for Flint’s citizens will lessen.

But wait you say, wasn’t Flint a victim of an inept DEQ and a Governor hell bent on austerity? Absolutely not. Let’s review. Some say that Flint was doomed the minute it decided to switch to river water. That the Flint River is a toxic soup that can’t be properly treated. That’s 100% false. The science of water chemistry tells us that there are only a precious few water sources on the planet that can’t be cleaned up for human consumption. It may get complicated and expensive but it can be done. That includes the Flint River just as it had been done in the past. The narrative that Snyder forcing a switch to river water is the cause of the lead poisoning is groundless unless someone can produce documentation confirming that he directed a state run agency to force Flint to omit corrosion control.

That’s because the decision to omit corrosion control was Flint’s responsibility. Not the DEQ. Not the EPA. Not Snyder. Not the emergency managers. It is always the responsibility of the water utility to put forth a water treatment plan for the regulatory oversight agency, in this case the DEQ, to review and rule on. The DEQ doesn’t propose a plan for Flint. Nor does the EPA. Regulatory agencies regulate. They can provide guidance and input if requested, but the primary responsibility was Flint’s. Even if the DEQ blows its review of the plan, which it did, and allows the utility to proceed with a treatment plan which fails to meet legal standards put forth by the EPA, it was still Flint’s requirement to adhere to the law. The DEQ failure doesn’t give Flint a get out of jail free card.

While Flint is clearly at fault for poisoning its own citizens, the EPA is every bit as complicit in creating the atmosphere which allowed the debacle to occur. My previous post covered this so I won’t rehash it here other than to say the EPA does not put public safety above all else as it would have you believe.

This was a bureaucratic failure at all levels of government. Flint’s motivations have always been financial. Switching from Detroit water to the future Karegnondi pipeline supplying Lake Huron water is about money. Temporarily switching to river water was about money. Getting someone else to pay for their past financial sins and the fallout from the source water switch is about money. State of Michigan appointed emergency managers were about money. Even the EPA exceptions and allowances to its Lead and Copper Rule (LCR) are also about money.

The focus tomorrow will be about assigning blame from a partisan perspective. You won’t see a focus on forcing the EPA to immediately issue a revision to its LCR in the interest of putting public health above all else. You won’t see a push to hold water utilities feet to the fire to do what’s right rather than just what they can get regulators to sign off on.

As we see time and again, we have government creating a problem and then selling itself as the only one capable of solving it. As long as people continue to buy into this dog and pony show, disasters like Flint will continue. Are there any winners resulting from Flint? Just the usual. The legal profession and our ever expanding bureaucracy. Losers? The victims of Flint to be sure and some will pay for a lifetime. Also the American people who will likely look completely past the real problems that allowed Flint to happen and will pay for it in perpetuity.