The whirlwind of backlash facing the Republican Governor of Michigan, Rick Snyder, is coming to a head. The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee has summoned Snyder to testify in order to determine exactly how a cost-cutting switch in water sources, orchestrated by Snyder’s appointed emergency manager, lead to the mass poisoning of the city of Flint, Michigan with dangerous, lead-contaminated water.
Michigan Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence (D-14th District)’s congressional office called for the hearing, even though Flint is not in her district – but it’s clear she has more than one bone to pick with the governor over the health of Michigan’s children, as her press release indicates:
We trust our government to protect the health and safety of our communities, and this includes the promise of clean water to drink and clean air to breath. Unfortunately, the people of Flint have had their trust violated. This public health crisis was caused by state and local officials, who made tragically bad decisions with the drinking water of Flint. Congressional oversight is needed to set things right, on behalf of the people of Flint and on behalf of future generations. Anything less than that would demonstrate gross negligence in providing the services that our constituents need and deserve.
It is estimated that thousands of children in Flint have been exposed to lead-tainted water, even after parents were assured it was safe. This was all done to save a few dollars. In Detroit, we are engaged in an air quality war, and yet, the MDEQ (Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality) has remained silent about a company’s proposal to release additional pollutants into our atmosphere. Detroit children struggle with the highest rate of asthma among America’s 18 largest cities. Our local and state government’s failure to address the Flint water crisis and other health hazards not only impacts the immediate health of these innocent children, but it can also lead to lasting and irreversible harm. This includes a range of learning, physical, and behavioral disabilities. This is unacceptable.”
The following public figures have also been summoned to appear before Congress regarding the crisis in Flint: the Mayor of Flint, Karen Weaver, whistle-blower pediatrician Dr. Mona Hanna-Atissha, Virginia Tech University researcher Marc Edwards, MDEQ’s former director, Dan Wyant, and the EPA’s former administrator for Region 5, Susan Hedman.
They will be facing inquiries by Chairman Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) and Ranking Member Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-MD). Chaffetz gained notoriety around the country for his ham-fisted bungling of the Planned Parenthood and Benghazi hearings, and will likely try to exonerate Snyder and pass all the blame on to the EPA. On the other hand, Cummings, who has worked closely with Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) on a number of issues on behalf of the American people, including summoning the widely despised “Pharma Bro” CEO Martin Shkreli to explain how he justified raising the price of an AIDS drug by 5000%. Rep. Lawrence, the Ranking Member of the Interior Subcomittee, will be there to ensure that the full story is revealed.
Following the explosive revelations in Snyder’s email release that indicate his city officials ignored and belittled concerns from his citizens while having knowledge of the contaminants in the heavily polluted Flint River water, it is far beyond time that the federal government stepped in to figure out exactly what transpired in this horrific failure in leadership in the Snyder administration – and to make sure that justice is served to those responsible.
Opinion columnist and former editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.