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.