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tv   Politics and Public Policy Today  CSPAN  February 3, 2016 9:00am-11:01am EST

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about whether the flint former emergency manager, darnell early, should be testifying and my understanding is that he was invited to testify, but he declined. and now i am getting word that they may be issuing a subpoena for him, but i don't have that verified yet. >> so moving this forward, will this be the first of many hearings by the committee and committees on the hill? >> i think that congress will be -- yes. this is the first of many. this is the house oversight and government reform committee. i imagine that there will be hearings on the senate side as well and maybe in some of the other committees on the house side.
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congress has the ability to conduct oversight hearings over the agencies that it funds and over the laws that it en acts. so this flint crisis has blown up into a major issue, a national issue and it's a public health crisis. >> what has the committee been able to find out so far about the epa's role about all of this. >> what's happening in the committee there up to this point? >> well, they've been doing some of these investigations, they've got -- there's going to be a memo, i think, that's going to have a lot of role in the committee hearing and it's a memo that was sent by a regulatory affairs manager within epa's region 5 office that he sent to his boss expressing his deep concerns about the situation in flint, and he basically said that epa needs to open up with the state deq and the city on these recommendations to provide
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technical assist on managing the water quality issues, he went further to say that -- that they need to review the compliance status of the city with respect to violations of the state drinking water act and why it wasn't adding the corrosion controls that needed to be added. so that's one starting point. and they will be looking at what is the interaction between the epa and the state. >> thanks for the set up. susan, the senior editor of the water law and policy center. thanks for your time this morning. >> okay. thank you. good to talk to you. >> and as this hearing is about to get under way we are waiting congressman dan kildee, he is the main residence and representative for residents in flint, michigan. he was a jest on this morning's washington journal. you can see that segment on our website at very quickly, some road to the white house information to pass
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on to you. monu rashu is a reporter in washington reporting that kentucky senator rand paul has quit his bid for the white house. rand paul not running for the president this year. chairman is responsible under the rules of the house and the rules of the committee to maintain order and preserve deck rum in the committee room. we appreciate your participation here today, but i would remind everybody that this is a congressional hearing and theres a certain deck rum that we would appreciate everybody's participation in. i believe there are some people in an overflow room and whatnot, but we are glad to do this and have everybody here today. prior to our opening statements i want to address some people who probably should be here that were invited to be here and others that members on both sides wanted to be here. we have two panels today, i think this will be a good first
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step moving forward. some people have wanted the governor to be here, some people have wanted the epa administrator to be here. we are going to have this hearing today, we have documents that will be provided by the epa and others and we will move forward from there. let me address a few people that i need to -- that were anticipated to be here. miguel dell for row is the program manager for region 5 water division at the epa. this by all appearance at least what i've seen so far is a good person who is doing good work and made the right moves at the right time. ms. leeann walters who tell hear testimony on our second panel from contacted the epa in february of 2015. keep the timeline in mind. dpeb of 2015. mr. dell for row was responsive and came to her house and tested
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the water. in that same month he was sent an invitation to appear as a witness before the committee, we did that last week, but in further discussions with the epa and given his excessive and appropriate responsiveness to the committee, we are -- have come to understand he is very active in the clean up efforts as we speak. we, therefore, have excused him today and communicated to the epa after good discussions with the epa that they would provide all of his e-mails by the end of this year. we think that is a good and productive step ford. we did not compel or push to have mr. dell torro come before us today and in consultation with the democrats i think this is the right move. >> susan headman is the former
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region 5 supervisor to the epa. july of 2015 we heard a hearing about mismanagement and retaliation at the epa in region 5 which is based in chicago. this has been a problem for the committee and her actions and management. again, she is the former epa administrator for region 5. now, i have a few documents that i'd like to enter into the record. i would ask unanimous consent to enter a june 24th, 2015, e-mail, memo from anything fwel dell torro to thomas coy at the drinking water branch. part of this e-mail says recent drinking water results indicate the presence of high lead results in the drinking water. without objection that will be entered into the record. i also have an april 27th e-mail
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from miguel dell torro to thomas poy. print has not been operating in a corrosive control treatment which is concerning giving the likelihood of lead service lines in the city. without objection i will enter that into the record. we have another e-mail here that is dated july 1st from susan headman to dane walling who was the mayor of flint, the preliminary draft report should not have been released outside of the agency. without objection we will enter that into the record, another one from susan head december man to dane walling. i'm not inclined for my staff to have any further communication with the aclu representative, we need to located e. focus on finalizing the report. in the meantime i have no reaction to the city letting him know that the report he was if
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given was preliminary draft and he would be premature to draw any conclusions based on that draft. again, this is july. you will see that this has been redacted. the top part. the epa has agreed by the end of the week we will get these nonredacted versions of these e-mails. without objection we will enter these four documents into the record. the committee requested a transcribed interview with ms. headman in a letter sent to the epa last week. shortly after the extent of the crisis in flint became public ms. headman resigned her position late in january. her resignation became effective on monday. the epa has agreed to provide all of his headman's e-mails, again, by the end of the week. today, this one right here, we are issuing a subpoena to susan headman to come appear before the committee and participate in a deposition.
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this will happen later this month. darnell early is the former emergency manager for the city of flint. he is the former emergency manager for flint, michigan. he was appointed the position in 2013 and he was tasked with overseeing flint's finances. mr. early left his position in january of 2015. the flint city council voted 7 to 1 to make the transition from detroit city water. the committee sent -- he is vital to understanding what happened and how these decisions were made. the committee sent mr. early an invite letter last week. he knew that this was happening and he knew that he was invite sod appear as a witness before the committee. most of the people that appear before the committee they do not -- we do not need to compel them to attend. participation, though, before this committee is not optional. when you get invited to come to the oversight and government reform committee you are going to show up.
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we were told at i believe 7:50 p.m. on monday night that he would not attend. on tuesday i issued a subpoena. normally these are done electronically with the counsel of record. his attorney refused service. we're calling on the u.s. marshals to hunt him down and give him that -- give him that subpoena. today we're issuing a new subpoena. he will appear and he will be here to do a deposition later this month. this subpoena will also be issued today. but we're going to need the help of the united states marshals. i want to issue -- i forgot to issue one other document. i would ask unanimous consent to enter into this document -- for the record, i'm sorry, enter
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into the record. this is from susan headman. this is a december 10th, 2015. natural resources defense council petition back in october to get the epa to do its job. again, further delaying it. let the members and the public look at this, but i ask unanimous consent to enter that into the record. so with that business in mind before we get to the opening statement i don't know if mr. cummings has any business or things that he wants to enter into the record. with that let us now transition. i appreciate the indulgence of the committee but i think it's important members understand where we are with subpoenas, with people's participation and the intent of the committee to participate in these depositions. so now let's go to the opening statements. i would like to yield to the gentleman from michigan, mr. walberg, for his comments. >> thank you, mr. chairman. and i thank you for taking this issue, this hearing and
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subsequent very seriously. it is a serious issue. i recognize my good friend and colleague representative kildee, the gentleman from flint. the efforts that you've carried on is important. for michigan it's important but i would -- i would mention to my other colleagues, this is important for the united states. we have infrastructure needs, we have challenges with government at all levels all around this country and we need to take it seriously. so to mr. kildee, thank you for raising this. the flint water crisis is indeed a human tragedy. it's not a natural disaster. it's a human disaster, brought on by failures of humans, but i think as well brought on by failures of government at all levels. we are here as a government oversight and reform committee to do the very thing that's necessary, to do oversight and
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reform and make it right where we can. sadly because i think of it as a grandfather and father, i wouldn't want my kids or my grandkids to have to drink this type of water. it's not -- [ applause ] >> it's not the thing we should expect in america especially, but it has happened and now the issue is how do we make it right? how do we move forward? the lives of young children will be impacted for years to come, sadly. the dreams and aspirations coming from their parents will be impacted. we're here today to find answers, to get answers and help for the people of flint but also for the people of the united states. we must get all the facts and get them right. there must be accountability where accountability needs to be taken. these children and families deserve nothing less. mr. chairman, i want to be clear. again, this was a failure of government.
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key failure of government. and just as this crisis was a failure at every level, the effort to make things right must be a cooperative effort at every level as well. the safety and well being of our citizens is not a republican or a democrat or an independent issue. it's a human issue. an american issue that affects americans' lives. politicizing this tragedy won't solve the problem and it won't help the children of flint. i make my commitment, mr. chairman, i make it to you, mr. kildee, as well, that this will be an effort that's bipartisan, i think you've seen our delegation step up even this morning with the introduction of legislation to assist in this deal. i hope today's hearing will begin to shine the light on how this tragedy happened, who was involved, how we can make it right and how we can never let it happen again so we can move forward together to fix and ensure that this american ideal that allows people to be free,
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safe, secure and upwardly mobile happens to a great degree by principles developed in this hearing. mr. chairman, i thank you and i yield back. >> thank you. i would remind the audience displays of approval or disapproval, clapping, not necessarily appropriate for this -- for this committee hearing. so if you please refrain from applause and whatnot we would all appreciate it. this is the united states of america. this isn't supposed to happen here, we are not some third world country where you get 100,000 people to get poisoned -- poisoned for long periods of time. i can't -- i can't even begin to express -- i don't know how my wife and i would deal with our kids being poisoned for so long. i just -- i physically cannot even understand or comprehend what the parents and the loved ones and the individuals who have been drinking that water have been going through. and i'm disappointed in the
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response at the local level, at the state level and at the federal level. this is a failing at every level. it's absolutely fundamentally and totally wrong. the public has a right to be outraged. outrage doesn't even begin to cover it. so i don't know how we fix this, but it has to be fixed. we're going to hear from one of our witnesses today, and i chatted with her for a moment before, ms. walters. i appreciate your coming before the committee and doing what you did early on in the process. i really do. and i look forward to hearing from our witnesses. we can't let this happen. it should have never happened in the first place. i'm going to yield back and let's give the time to our ranking member, mr. cummings for his opening comments. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. mr. chairman, mr. kildee and i
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really appreciate you and miss lawrence for all of your efforts, for requesting this hearing and making it happen. mr. chairman, i want to yield three minutes to my distinguished colleague, ms. lawrence from michigan for part of her opening. >> thank you, mr. chair and to the ranking member cummings. i want to personally thank you for holding this hearing. in my letter to the chairman on january the 12th of this year i asked that this hearing examine the action of key decision-makers involved in the development of this drinking water contamination crisis. i never thought this could happen in america in this day and age and our great country and our great home of michigan where we're surrounded by fresh water and the great lakes. every american has the right to three basic needs from their government, clean air to breathe, safe food to eat and
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air that they can breathe that will not harm their bodies. we in government have failed them. and providing these basic needs we've also failed their trust. i'm pleased as ms. waters is here because she puts a face on this tragedy. she, like so many mothers and residents of flint, deserve to be heard. they're putting their trust in the government to fully investigate the wrongs that this city and these citizens of america have suffered and today we have a chance to start rebuilding that trust. i submit to you, mr. chairman, that while we're doing the right thing in holding this hearing, and i appreciate your swift reaction to my request for these hearings, it's difficult to correct the mistakes of the past unless we call the decision-makers in this man-made disaster and ask them what happened, why did it happen and when did you know and what did you do when you found out about it. i want to publicly renew my
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request for another hearing, and i'm so encouraged to hear that there will be. i strongly believe that governor rick snyder, dan wyatt, mr. early and other michigan state officials directly related to this devastating event before this body, they should come and they should answer the questions. the people of flint, to congressman kildee, i stand with you in this fight. i know that i walked through flint, met with so many people and the heart and the courage that you're having during this crisis, i want you to know that i'm standing with you, i will fight for you, and, mr. kildee, i will be right there with you. my objective is never again in america. we can fix this but we have to have those who made the decisions come forward and give
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answers and i yield back my time. >> mr. chairman, the -- we are the last line of defense. i do thank you for calling this hearing because there's some chairmen that wouldn't have called it. >> that's true. >> and i mean that. they wouldn't have called it. but you did. and finally i want to say a special thank you to the many residents of flint, michigan, who traveled all the way here to washington, d.c. to attend today's hearing and to you we thank you and reverend, sharpton, al sharpton, i thank you for being here. i welcome you all and i thank you so much. i believe that we have a moral obligation to conduct a comprehensive investigation of this crisis.
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and let's be abundantly clear. it is a crisis. we need to determine how children in the united states of america, in the year of 2016, have been exposed to drinking water poisoned with lead. and not by accident. by the actions of their own government. i ask every member of this committee to take a moment and imagine what your reaction would be if this happened in your district instead of flint. ask yourselves would i tolerate it? of course you wouldn't. you would demand answers. you would demand that we examine the actions of everyone. and when i say everyone, i mean everyone. you would hear testimony from everyone involved and you would
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obtain documents from everyone involved. the problem is that today we are missing the most critical witness of all, the governor of the state of michigan, rick snyder. he is not here. governor snyder was a driving force behind michigan's emergency manager law which he signed in 2011 and invoked to take over the city of flint from his local elected leaders. the governor hand-picked appointees to run the city and they decided to use water from the flint river. he also let the michigan department of environmental quality, which failed to protect the people of flint, according to the governor's own task force
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charged with investigating this crisis. obviously governor snyder should have to answer for his decisions. we ask the chairman to invite him today but he would not. we asked the chairman to give us a date in the future for a hearing with governor snyder but he would not. we asked the chairman to send the same kind -- the same kind of document requests to governor snyder that he sent to the aepa but he would not do that, either. we want answers from everybody, from the epa, straight on down to the local officials. that's the way we get to the bottom of this crisis. the problem with this approach is that it undermines the credibility of congress. our committee and this investigation. that is totally unacceptable to the people of flint, it should be totally unacceptable to the
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people of this congress and totally unacceptable to the people of the united states of america. as i said before, we are the last line of defense. certainly we want to hear from the epa. i want to hear from the epa. based on what i have seen the epa officials should have moved much more aggressively after they detected their heightened levels of lead, but states are the primary enforcement agencies for the safe drinking water act, not the epa. the chairman argues that we should let the state continue its own investigation, but i disagree. the state has failed the people of flint, now it's up to us, all of us. and let me be clear. if we act selectively for political reasons then we become a part of the problem.g&r
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the information has been brought to us and we now have a duty to investigate all aspects of the crisis. we simply do not have the right to remain silent. we do not have the right not to act. government broke it, government must fix it. and so today every democrat on the committee has joined together to sign this letter to the chairman, it invokes our right under the house rules to demand a hearing with witnesses of our choosing. in this letter we officially request testimony from governor snyder and the three key emergency managers that he appointed to govern flint. edward curse, jerry ambrose and darnell early. i would ask that our letter be inserted into the official record. mr. chairman. >> without objection it's
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ordered. >> i ask that it be inserted into the official hearing record and our ultimate goal must be to serve the interest of the children and the families of flint. so we do not know the full extent of the damage that was caused, but we know it is grave. today the committee received a letter from the american academy of pediatrics. the letter warned that thousands of children under the age of six have now been potentially exposed to lead through the flint drinking water. the letter says this, as you know, the city of flint has long been an impoverished community beset by economic and infrastructure hardships. this adversity coupled with widespread lead exposure means that flint's children will require significant help in coping with the impact of lead
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on their physical and behavioral health and development, their schooling and much more, end of quote. as i close, mr. chairman, it is our job here on this committee and in this congress to make sure this help is provided to these kids, but, mr. chairman, not only to the kids, but to the adults and every citizen of flint and to ensure that they are not forgotten after these hearings end. and that is why i say this is not a political issue. this is a moral issue. we have to investigate what happened at all levels including the state and then we have to turn to accountability and reform. last but not least, mr. chairman, there is a fellow who had a song that i used to love, he never had any hits in my district, but he sang the song, he said -- and his name was cat stevens, and cat stevens said oh
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very young what will you bring us this time? you're only dancing on this earth for a short time. oh, very young, what will you leave us this time? and i've often said that our children are the living messages we send to a future we will never see. the question is what will they leave us and how will we send them into that future? will we send them strong? will we send them hopeful? will we rob them of their destiny? will we rob them of their dreams? no, we will not do that. and i am proud of this committee for holding this hearing. we will get to the bottom of this and as mr. walberg said, we will do it in a bipartisan way. thank you, mr. chairman, and i yield back. >> thank the gentleman. you should have applauded that, but i would appreciate listening. all right. thank you. [ applause ] >> all right. so we're good now.
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all right. thank you. and that's what i love about mr. cummings and this committee, we have passionate people on both sides who care deeply about their country and nobody -- nobody wants to see this -- this thing happen. and we're going to have a good -- a good hearing today. the chair -- i told the record open for five legislative days for any member who would like to submit a written statement. chair also notes the presence today of the former chairman of this committee. we would ask unanimous consent to allow him to be in this hearing. we are also pleased to note congressman morgan griffith. we would ask that he, too, be allowed to join this panel. without objection so ordered. we now -- we will have two panels today, it has been the practice of the house and common courtesy to our colleagues in a situation like this to allow a member who represents this
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district, mr. dan kildee, who represents the fifth district of michigan, which includes the city of flint, we have asked him to participate today to give his perspective and we will now recognize him for five minutes. mr. kildee. >> first of all, thank you, mr. chairman, for holding this hearing and for allowing me to make some comments on what's happening in my hometown and to the ranking member, mr. cummings, thank you for your support and your guidance and your -- your allegiance to the people of the city of flint and to my colleague, congresswoman lawrence with whom i have worked on this from the very beginning i just want to say thanks for having my back and the back of the people of the city of the city of flint. i will try to be brief. i know we have really the heroes of this story, some of them on the panel i'm anxious to listen to, but flint is my hometown. i grew up in flint. i raised my children in flint.
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when we leave here at the end of every week, i fly home to flint. i'm a son of this town. so it breaks my heart to see what's happening and it breaks my heart not just because of what has been inflicted upon the people of flint, but because it was an entirely avoidable set of circumstances. better action by people in government could have protected the people of flint and those players failed. and i appreciate the outrage that members of congress, my colleagues, have expressed and that outrage has come from both sides of the ail, but my hope is that that outrage translates into something more than just sharing the misery of the people of flint or sympathy for the people of flint, but we need to provide help for the folks in flint. flint is a strong community. we have been through really tough times, and we will get
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through this, too, but we have to have resources from the people who did this to flint in order to create a path forward for the people and especially for the children of my hometown. right now the water still not yet safe to drink in flint. high levels of lead continue to show up in testing. the reason i'm here and the reason i wanted to make some comments is that i wanted to make sure as this committee pursues its responsibility that we focus on the facts of this case and make sure that those guide the conclusions that we make. it was mentioned in flint we have had an emergency manager. that's not just a small anecdote here. emergency managers in michigan have absolute authority over local governments. so when we talk about failure of government at every level let's
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just be clear about one point, one very important point. every decision that was made for the city of flint that relates to this crisis was made by a state appointed emergency manager. so when referring to local decisions, there are some who are trying to on if i say kate responsibility for this crisis by saying these were local decisions. they were local decisions made by a state emergency manager. the mayor of the city has no authority. the city council in flint, zero authority to make any decisions. that's an important point. making matters worse, the reason an emergency manager was required in flint in the first place is largely because of obviously big factors over time, the loss of our manufacturing base, but at the same time the state of michigan cut an essential element of city resources. it cut the money that goes to
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support cities from its budget. the city has a $50 million general fund and over the last decade $50 million of direct revenue sharing from the state to the city was eliminated. throwing the city into a financial crisis precipitating the appointment by the state of an emergency manager to take over the city. the state that helped bankrupt the city is now sent in to try to take it over to get it right. it was the state emergency manager that made the decision to switch the city of flint to the flint river water source and it was the emergency manager who had 100% control of all departments of city government including the department responsible for making sure that the water was properly treated and that emergency manager failed. let me just show you one exhibit just so that you have an understanding. these are facts. this is the order by the emergency manager to switch to
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the flint river. and again, there is a public relations campaign that under way right now to try to say these were local decisions or, no, it was actually the epa to deflect responsibility from the state of michigan. this was a decision by an emergency manager in flint to go to the flint river water source. it's the critical decision that was made that precipitated this entire crisis. so after that switch was made citizens began to speak up, and, in fact, one of them, leeann walters, is here and will be on the next panel. she's one of the heroes of this story. and let me be clear, the heroes in the story of flint are those who brought it to light and they are not public officials. they are citizens, they are activists, they are people who would not be quiet and leeann walters is one of them and you will hear from her. she went to the deq, ultimately had to go to the epa as the chairman had indicated to raise
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this question, and what was the response of the michigan department of environmental quality when these issues were raised? to try to discredit all the voices that were calling this problem to their attention, whether it was dr. mark edwards from virginia tech who you will hear from, the state of michigan tried to discredit his research, a guy who has spent really his career on clean water. tried to discredit the citizens as if they were just unhappy citizens. they had lead in their water that was going to their children. again, there is an effort to try to create some false equivalency of responsibility. i am critical of the epa in this case, don't get me wrong. in fact, i have legislation that i'm introducing that hopefully will be bipartisan taken up soon that would require much greater transparency by the epa. i wish that as soon as the epa discovered that there were
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problems with the water in flint that they would shout it from the mountaintop that there's a problem in flint. instead they kept insisting that the michigan department of environmental quality do its job, which it failed to do. one of the questions that has come up is why didn't the epa insist that the michigan department of environmental quality require the corrosion control to be used in flint? well, there's a document that i have in my hand which i'm submitting to you, it's a memo from the michigan department of environmental quality to the department -- the epa saying that -- and this is dated february 27 of 2015, almost a year ago, indicating that flint has an optimized corrosion control program. they did not. so to hold the epa accountable,
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i want to hold them accountable for transparency but let's make sure we get the facts right. it was the michigan department of environmental quality telling the epa that they had this thing under control. that they were using corrosion control in flint when they were not. i would have preferred the epa had let me know, had let the community know that they had this data and let us force the deq to do its job and they didn't and that's their failure, but it is not their failure to not insist that a corrosion control process be implemented. they continued to ask and they were told it was under control when it was not. so when this all became public another one of the heroes of this story, dr. mona aticia, she is a pediatrician in flint, she began to look at blood levels in children and it showed elevated
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blood lead levels in children in flint. she released her data and what was the response of the state of michigan? to try to discredit this pediatrician who has devoted her entire life to the health of children, just trying to do her job for the kids of flint. there was a continuous effort to try to minuimize this problem a if it did not exist. there are a lot of questions about who knew what and when and that's really an important part of this. we have an e-mail from the chief of staff in the governor's office back in july of 2015 raising this question and saying that he thought that basically the people in flint were getting blown off by the state. so they knew about this back then and failed to act. so let me just conclude by saying a couple of things.
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i'm really concerned that we get to the facts on this, not just because i want to know who should be fired, who should be subpoenaed, who should be blamed, who should be prosecuted. justice comes in those forms for sure. flint comes by making it right for the people of flint and the only way we can make it right is to make sure we know who did this and for anybody who has been paying attention to this case back home in michigan, there's really no doubt about who is responsible. the state of michigan was responsible as the ranking member said, has prime's for the enforcement of the lead and copper rule, the state of michigan was running the city of flint itself at the time that these decisions were made and the state of michigan denied to the citizens of the state and to the citizens of flint that this was a problem. at one point a state official after the lead data had already
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been made known to them told people in flint that they should just relax. 9,000 children of flint with water with elevated lead levels going into their bodies. relax? yes, this is a failure of government, but this false equivalency that somehow local officials who had no power and the epa who i agree should have done more should be held accountable for this misses the point. this was a state failure. you will hear from folks today and the current head of the michigan department of environmental quality whom i know is a good man, he was not in the position at the time these decisions were made and can't really testify to what happened then in realtime.
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we were there. leeann walters was there, mark edwards was there, dr. mona was there, the people of flint knew what was happening. so the state to my point of view, my perspective, has a moral responsibility not to just apologize. the governor has already apologized. in his state of the state he said he acknowledged responsibility. but the way i was raised is that when you do something wrong to someone, something that has a consequence, you do apologize for sure, but also if you have it in your power to make it right for that person, to make it right for those people, you have to stand up and do that. so far we haven't seen that. we need the pipes fixed in flint. in fact, the governor should write a check tomorrow for the $60 million that the mayor of flint has asked for to replace
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the lead service lines. he is sitting on a billion dollar surplus, he should ask for that money tomorrow and then commit to not just fix the infrastructure but make it right for these kids. give them the kind of help that any child with a developmental hurdle to overcome should get. early childhood education, good nutrition, lots of support, behavioral support not just now, not just next year but for the entire trajectory of their development el cycle. this is a tragedy. it cannot be fixed. but those who did this to flint can stand up and make it right and i would ask this committee to do everything within your power to find the facts. and if you do and if you let those facts lead you to the conclusion that they should, we will find that the state of michigan bears the responsibility to the greatest extent and they should be held to account, but they also should be held to make it right. with that, mr. chairman, i
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appreciate the opportunity to speak and i yield back. thank you. >> thank you for your participation and your passion. all those documents that you referred to will be entered into the record. what we will do now is recess for approximately four minutes. so don't go anywhere, but the clerks need to reset for the panel number two and we will go from there. committee stands in recess.
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[ brief recess ]
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>> announcer: this is just a
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brief break in this hearing examining the water in flint, michigan, and the health crisis. it's being held by the house oversight and government reform committee. witnesses at the hearing of course including officials from the epa and the head of the michigan department of environmental quality, also a resident of flint, michigan. we now have our -- the committee will come to order. the committee will now recognize the second panel. pleased to welcome mr. joel beauvais, he is the acting deputy assistant administrator of the office of water at the united states environmental protection agency. mr. keith cray, mr. mark edwards, the charles p. lunds forward professor of environmental and water resources engineering at the
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virginia polytechnic institute and state university, and ms. leeann walters, a resident and parent from flint, michigan. we welcome you all and thank you for your participation today. pursuaif you arpursuant to part witnesses will be sworn before they testify. if you will please rise and raise your right hand. do you solemnly swear or affirm that the testimony you will give will be the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth? thank you. you may be seated. let the record reflect that all witnesses answered in the affirmative. >> in order to allow time for further discussion and questioning by members, we would appreciate your limiting your opening comments to no more than five minutes. and your entire submission will be -- entire written statement will be made part of the record. mr. beauvais -- sorry, beauvais,
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you are now recognized for five minutes. >> thank you. good morning, mr. chairman, ranking member cummings, distinguished members of the committee. my name is joel beauvais and i currently serve administrator o office of water. thank you for the opportunity to testify about e pa's response to the drinking water crisis in flint, michigan. i spent the day yesterday in flint with administrator mccarthy and the response team on the ground. we met with mayor weaver, dr. hanatisha, community members and leader. the situation in flint is urgent and demands help from the government to help the city recover. the epa is engaged and working to restore safe drinking water in flint in coordination with the broader federal response effort . what happened in frilint was avoidable and never should have happened. under the safe drinking water act congress directed epa to set
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national standards but assigned primary responsibility to the states to implement and enforce the law. epa maintains federal oversight of state programs. that system, while imperfect, achieved major gains in drinking water safety nationwide. the situation that gave rise to the current crisis in flint of a large public water system switching from purchasing treated water to using an untreated water source, is highly unusual. under federal regular allegations the city was required to obtain prior -- corrosion control treatment was not necessary. failure to implement the treatment resulted in leaching of lead into the water. e pa was urged to address the corrosion control but encountered resistance.
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delays and in informing the public of health risks had serious consequences. all parties involved need to take steps to understand how it happened and to ensure that it never happens again. several reviews and investigations including a u.s. department of justice investigation are under way in michigan. administrator mccarthy has asked epa's inspector general to undertake an independent review of epa's response and oversight of m deq. epa looks forward to receiving and acting upon the results of the review. administrator mccarthy issued an agency-wide el elevation policy directing epa's leadership to encourage, prompt and decisive action. further we are committed to engaging with states, system operators and other stake holders to address lessons from flint and other potential drinking water risks. epa is working hard to address
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the public health emergency in flint. since october the flint safe drinking water task force provided expert assistance on corrosion control treatment and proper lead testing. in november, epa announced we are conducting an audit of the drinking water program to assess performance and identity needed changes. january 21 flfs an emergency order under the safe drinking act directing the state of michigan, mde q and flint to take actions necessary to ensure that corrosionle control is reoptimize and that the city establishes the capacity to operate the drink water system in compliance with the law. following president obama's emergency declaration in january, the administration deployed a multi agency response effort in flint. epa has established a significant presence on the ground, including scientists, water quality ex perts, response personnel and community engagement coordinators. in addition to providing
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technical assistance through our task force epa has launched a sampling effort to assess and support ongoing work to restore flint's system. we are sharing information with the public in a timely way and will continue to work with the city, state and community to get flint's system on track. in addition to our work in flint epa is committed to strengthening the lead and copper rule which covers 68,000 systems nationwide. we are working on revisions to the rule. last december we received extensive recommendations from the national drinking water advisory council and concerned shake holders. we will this i put including the events in flint as we develop proposed improvements. in the nearer term we will be working with states and other stakeholders to take near term action to strengthen the existing rule. thank you for the opportunity to testify today. i welcome any questions. >> thank you. you are now recognized for five
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minutes. >> thank you, chairman. members of the committee on oversight and government reform. thank you for the opportunity to be here to discuss the flint water crisis. since january 4, 2016 i have been a director of the michigan department of environmental quality. i want to start by apologizing to the residents of flint. in retrospect government at all levels should have done more. we must fully investigate what happened in order to make sure it will never happen again. in addition, most urgently, we must fix the problem for the people of flint. this is a complex issue due to the multiple levels of government oversight. flint is responsible for daily operations of the water plant and the distribution system including identifying sampling location. the state of michigan is responsible for ensuring compliance with the lead and copper rule and the safe drinking water act t. u.s. epa
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sets national drinking water standards, provides oversight to make sure the standards are met and audit it is state programs n. flint implementation of the rule was in effective in protecting public health. when the first sampling game back at 6 parts per billion in january, corrosion treatment wasn't implemented. regardless of the testing schedule allowed by the epa rule when lead levels began to rise corrosion treatment should have been required by the department of environmental quality. as a michigan auditor general pointed out the m deq's office of drinking water and municipal assistance relied on technical compliance instead of assuring safe drinking water. the lead and copper rule would have allowed 24 months to begin treatments. it is now clear the rule is outdated and inadequate to protect the public from exposure to lead, especially in communities with aging infrastructures such as flint. the many reviews of the situation from the u.s.
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department of justice to the interagency team to the michigan attorney general will address in depth the policy and decision-making corrections needed to ensure that government at all levels can provide safe, clean, drinking water to citizens. we could spend the morning trying to assign blame. i would like to talk about lee anne walters dr. mark edwards in helping to bring the problem to light. i want to spend a few minutes discussing the safety response undertaken to fix the problem. the state has been working hard to develop effective steps to address issues related to the drinking water in flint. on october 7 governor rick snyder announced a ten-step plan to address the flint waterle emergency. on january 5 the state emergency operations center was activated. we have handed out approximately 100,000 water filters, 234 cases of bottled water, 32,000 water
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testing sampling kits. i want to highlight the five prong sampling plan that addresses the short and long-term needs of flint. this includes access to water sampling for residents. although this is not a scientific sampling pool initial results have shown lead levels with 93% of sampling of homes below the levels. testing of day cares, schools and nursing homes are under way. home screening and additional follow up for children with elevated lead levels in the blood are being coordinated by the michigan department of health and human services. identification of sentinel sites to allow for testing of water in conjunction with the epa in the city. the state will achieve these deliverables identified in the epa order sent on january 21. since the issuance of the order, the state and epa have had productive and constructive
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conversations on unified path forward. while we certainly appreciate the dialogue that's occurred consultation with the state before the order was issued would have provided clarity to many issues the state was under way in addressing. it's puzzling that the order was issued so long after the state response began. without mention ing the steps already under way. to be successful, the state needs to have a high performing trust based partnership with the epa, city of flint and other agencies at the local and county levels. i appreciate the relationships established between myself, mayor weaver and bob kaplan through the weekly calls and meetings. we know the task ahead is important. as is the restoration of the public's trust. governor snyder is committed to providing resources necessary to provide solutions. i look to our congressional and federal partners to provide leadership on federal resources that can be leveraged to address problems we elated to the flint water crisis.
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we will not rest until the problem is solved and the people of flint are assured they have water that's safe for them and their families. i thank you again for the opportunity to come before you today. i look forward to answering any questions you may have. >> thank you. mr. edwards, you are recognized for five minutes. >> thank you. this is the third time unfortunately that i have testified before congress about deficiencies in the epa lead and copper rule. i see my friend el eleanor norton up there. i wish i didn't know you so well. when we met on this in 2004 we talked about the deficiencies, loopholes in the regulation and all of what we have we could have learned from washington, d.c. was derailed. frankly, the only thing we learned in washington, d.c. was that these agencies paid to protect us from lead in drinking water can get away with
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anything. so i am really begging you to do what we didn't do the last two times. fix the epa lead and copper rule and the u.s. epa. the agencies involved in protecting children from lead and drinking water in the country including the u.s. centers for disease control, epa, water utilities have proven themselves time and again unworthy of the public trust. they cannot be trusted to fix the problem. they have repeatedly engaged in scientific misconduct and in the written testimony submitted to the committee. five examples of falsified reports from these agencies that have conclusionsle directly
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endangering children in this country even in the case of an epa report they acknowledge has no data after nine years. they refused to retract this report. so their callous disregard for the most vulnerable amongst us is reallile played out most recently in flint, michigan. residents there have been living a surreal experience. it's part "1984," part "enemy of the people." le i am personally ashamed the profession i belong to, the drinking water in this country
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allowed this to occur. i'm begging you. please. these agencies -- do what these agencies have refused to do. protect kids in this country from lead in drinking water. let's make them live up to their no bile mission and be worthy of the public trust. i will yield my time. >> the gentleman yields back. ms. walters, you are recognized for five minutes. >> my home used to be a place of comfort and safety for my family. it used to be what a home should be, a place of peace and protection from the outside world. that was taken from us and not just from my family but from every home and citizen in flint. now my home is known as ground zero. the people in flint now stand with the people in d.c. who suffered their own lead crisis a decade ago. we know the horror of poison running through the taps and negligence of the agencies paid
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to protect us. in 2014 in a city with no democracy, forced under an emergency manager hand picked by governor snyder a decision was made to switch the water source without proper testing and enforcement of regulation. the m deq claims they misinterpreted federal law regarding corrosion control. they were allowed to tell epa they were following the law without any verification. the citizens in flont were assured for 18 months the water was safe. my home was being tested because of the discoloration of the water and the health issues my family was experiencing. we fought the city and state, saying there was something wrong and we were dismissed. i decided we needed to get to the science if anyone was going to believe us. i started researching and educating myself about water. i had three tests done by the city of flint using extra steps that tend to minimize lead in water. those numbers were 104 parts per billion, 397 parts per billion, and 707 parts per billion.
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i contacted the epa and started working with miguel detoro and jennifer crooks. mr. del toro was knowledgeable and thorough. i told him i didn't believe there was corrosion control in the water, provided documentation about this fact and he verified my mindings and he was furious. he questioned the mde q and at first they lied and later admitted the truth. i figured out that ms. crooks was aiding the m deq with her lies and mr. del toro was the only one willing to address the problem. i requested a copy of his report and i made it public because people had a right to know. with the report public the epa, susan headman apologized to flint and m deq because of policy. no one but mr. del toro was willing to do their job. he was told by the ethics attorney to forward all media requests, including those during
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his personal time. he was also advised not to talk about flint or to anyone from flint. in a meeting i had with m deq, lee ann smith bragged about how he had been handled, that his report was flawed and there would be no final report. this was the ultimate betrayal for the citizens. susan headman cared more about policy than the welfare of a community while punishing and silencing the one person willing to help us. i started doing independent testing with virginia tech and 30 tests were done. tests that were performed in accordance with the lcr. my average was 2500 parts per billion. my highest was 13,500 parts per billion. hazardous waste is 5,000. regardless of this information and the fact that my son had lead poisoning the city and mdeq continued to say the water was safe as the epa sat by and
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watched in silence. because the state and federal governments failed us with the help of virginia tech we conducted citizen-based samplings, edgele indicated and distributed 300 samples throughout the city, collected back 270 sachls. all in a three-week turn around. here are the facts. after the tragedy in d.c. from 2001 to 2006, children were poisoned by lead and water the epa should have immediately closed loopholes to protect citizens. had the epa closed the loopholes then it could have 100% prevented what took place in flint. epas has failed to protect people by failing to ban replacements. the lcr national report from 2006 state it is lack of system response for lead exceedance is true to inform the public. it is done less than one-third of time. for my research i found this is not a flint problem or a rare anomaly. this is a national problem. only ten states test accurately
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and according to the lcr. 24 states don't reveal sampling and ten states have similar loopholes. there is no reason for testing with loopholes except to hide lead. these loopholes need to be eliminated are preflush, small mouth bottles and cap on stagnation. i spoke against the reck men editions that are now under advisement by the epa to change the lcr. these recommendations will ek with aen a broken system. i'm outraged the epa continued to allow this dishonesty with test ing to continue nationally. the citizens in flint are relying on you because we have no choice. we trust no one but virginia tech. people in flint are still not being assisted during this crisis. illegal immigrants, disabled and shut-ins. broken policy and procedures are smothering the outcry of the community suffering financially, physically, mentally and emotion
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ally. i urge you to help restore the trust lost and protect all the citizens in the united states by never allowing this to happen again. we need this to happen now, not ten years from now. thank you. [ applause ] >> thank you for the testimony. we'll now recognize the gentleman from michigan, mr. wahlberg for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. you were a good panel to start the investigation at this level. mr. bovier in his testimony director cray noted an e-mail from the epa to mdeq in response to the release of miguel del toro's june 24, 2015 memo stating -- and this is the epa e-mail that i quote from. "i want to remind you that
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miguel's report had deq cc'd, so if the legislature or whoever might say you were all cc'd, you can truthfully respond that it was epa's request that the report not be sent to the cc's. contin consequently you never received the report from miguel." who sent that e-mail and why would they say they never received a report which identified the lack of corrosive controls in place? >> my understanding is that the e-mail to which you are referring was from a staffer in region 5 named jennifer crooks. i have seen the e-mail. i don't know why that was sent. >> has there been a check to see why the e-mail was sent from anybody? >> we are looking into that and the administrator asked the inspeck tor general to undertake an evaluation and assessment and independent review of what happened here.
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we need to get to the bottom of that and all of the other facts here. >> was miguel del toro punished for releasing this interim memo? >> i'm not aware of punishment of mr. del toro. he is a valued member of the team, nationally recognized in this area -- >> not listened to. >> he has spoke ton the media. i believe he's also briefed the staff of the system. i am not aware of any -- >> do you believe mr. del toro was punished by the epa. >> not in writing, but the way epa operating in general is that people who are causing trouble by doing their job aren't allowed to do their job. they are silenced as mr. del toro was. he was told by the ethics officer at epa not to speak to anyone from flint or about flint. he told me that himself before
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he was unable to talk to me anymore. >> dr. edwards, do you believe the epa is aware of local municipalities not following the requirements under the lead and copper rule? >> yes. i think epa in general cast a blind eye on these municipalities who are not following -- >> even beyond flint? >> yes, absolutely. >> a blind eye? >> well, for example in durham, north carolina, in 2008 children were lead poisoned as a result of a sampling protocol where you remove the aerator, clean the lead out so when you measure the lead it looks lower than it normally is. epa wrote a memo that banned that protocol. but they know, as we speak today water utilities still use that
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protocol, even after it was banned and caused lead poison of children in durham. it's frustrating. >> their response, would you conclude, is because of a lack of clarity in federal regulations or lack of enforcement, or both? >> in a written letter i wrote to the epa office of water i said the only thing i can conclude is that they don't care about children lead poisoned from drinking water. >> why do you think the epa has this problem? that's a pretty strong statement. i guess we'll look for further testimony. why does epa have this problem? >> you would have to ask them why they refuse to do the job they are paid to do. >> do you believe they are violating the law? >> i believe that they are not enforcing the law. they are not enforcing their own policies. they have created this environment in which basically anything goes. >> this is manifested very clearly in flint? >> yes.
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most obviously in flint due to the unique circumstances, the miracle of outsiders, in spite of the system showing that this problem occurred. had it not been for people completely outside the system, those children in flint would still be drinking that water to this day. that's a fact. >> i have more questions but my time is expired so i yield back. >> i'll remind the committee we had a hearing here in july about region 5, about susan headman. we had three whistle blowers saying people were being reel tall yated against for bringing complaints before that renal. it's frustrating that that was not dealt with when-brought up. it never should have happened. she just retired on monday. >> very briefly, mr. chairman.
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back on the hearing of your regard in a bipartisan way, we made it clear that we would not tolerate retaliation. nobody on either side would tolerate that. it's been our policy. i think as we look at these depositions that the chairman is planning to do we may want to look to make sure we get to the bottom of that. i know the a.g. is looking at it. the fbi is looking at it. perhaps we want to consider that. >> i would concur and encourage people if they feel retall yated against for telling the truth and exposing the reality, come talk to us. there is no way we'll stand for that. we'll have your back and make sure the truth gets out there. you should not be retaliated. there are whistle blower protections in place for sharing information with congress that's
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vital for us to do our jobs. please, pass that word along. we now recognize the gentle woman from michigan, ms. lawrence, for five minutes. >> thank you. mr. cray, on january 29, ranking member cummings and myself sent to governor snyder a detailed document request. as of this morning the committee has not received any response from the governor. since this request covers your agency, can you tell the committee what steps have been taken to collect these documents and when will we get them? >> i'm aware of the letter. i believe there is a february 11 date. i'm aware the governor's office is reviewing that document. >> i have a question about this iss issue. can you explain in the state of
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michigan what exactly is the role of the michigan department of environmental quality. once advised by epa, which did happen in this is situation, what is the responsibility based on the state of michigan's law? >> so the state of michigan has enacted corollary statutes that mirror the safe drinking water act that allow us to enforce laws in michigan. we have -- for en forcing the lead and copper in drinking water act and the epa sets the standards, oversees the program and conducts yearly audits. >> so with the law and your responsibility, you are now in the position, what failed in enacting the law and can you
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explain to me why a response to epa on the february 26 advising the state of michigan that there was lead or high levels of corrosion in the flint water. >> it's the question of the day. that's what many of the auditors and reviews will have is who made what decisions when. that's when i said we needed a thorough investigation. as i mentioned in my testimony the city runs the plant. we oversee that. we work with epa on standards and conversations. >> are you saying the city is responsible for not responding? if we follow thes information it came from epa directly to the
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michigan department of environmental quality advising you about the flint water. >> if i could, i would say it differently. we all share a responsibility whether it's the city, state or federal government. we let the citizens of flint down. the commitment is to make sure we saw that problem. we saw dr. edwards talk about the lead and copperle rule. the citizens shouldn't have to worry about the lead and copper rule. they should have fresh, safe, drinking water. >> you are new in the position. we have heard there are issues with epa. what are you doing in the state of michigan. what are the improvements? >> thank you for the questions. there is the epa water task force. weekly calls with bob kaplan who
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is interim regional administrator for the u.s. epa. our commitment is there is no difference of opinion on regulation and/or implementation. i met weekly with mr. weaver to be sure we are in lock step for implementation. we have implement ed and have conversations. i visited with miguel a couple of times already since i have been there. talking about the epa water task force to make sure we get it right. it's a complex issue to get it right. >> i want to be clear when you say it's the question of the day. because when this is the response, the state deq is perplexed by its results as it seems to be by the city's test results this city specializes in looking for higher lead
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problems. we keep saying the question of the day. has anyone been held accountable? >> yes. there is accountability throughout the system. there have been suspensions at the deq. everyone deserves due process. >> my question is if it's the question of the day you are obviously holding people accountable. you should know what happened. it should move from being a question to actually documented. how can you discipline someone or hold them accountable if you don't have clear information of failure of their job. >> i appreciate the question. we do have clear standards. we have clear accountabilities, a clear path forward. we are working in conjunction with both the city, state and federal government to resolve
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this so it doesn't happen again. >> i think i will hear that a couple times again. i want to say thank you to ms. walters. you being here today, your passion going above and beyond, the amazing job you have as a parent and your civic commitment, i want to thank you. i saw you taking some breaths during your testimony because this is obviously more than just a testimony. this is your life and these are your children. i just want to thank you for being here. >> we'll now recognize the gentleman from michigan mr. amash for five minutes. >> thank you. it's outrageous that this sort of government-made catastrophe would happen anywhere in the united states. i agree with my democratic colleagues. we need an independent nonpartisan investigation. the state of michigan needs to
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provide comprehensive assistance to the people of flint. the state has the resources. i can assure you as a former state legislature the state spends $43 million on the pure michigan ad campaign. yet it's provided only $28 million to make sure the people of flint have pure water. so the state has the resources. the state needs to make it right. i never liked the emergency manager law. it takes power away from the people of the community. it's disappointing that former emergency manager early had his attorney tell us when he received the subpoena for his aten dance here it borders on nonsensical to accept the subpoena to come here. what's noncall and disapointing is one of the people who is
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probably most culpable who won't take responsibility for it. he needs to appear here. it's unfortunate. this is an esteemed panel that we have only the four of you. my first question is for mr. creagh. ms. laurens touched on this. what role does the michigan deq have in implementing and enforcing safe drinking water standards. i want to get to the bottom of it. is it the primary role? >> we have the primary role el to oversee on the lead and copper rule. >> what role does the michigan deq have in the process of bringing a water treatment plant
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back online. it is my understanding the flint treatment plant was off line for a long period of time. >> the flint treatment plant has a long history. it was a primary source, i believe before 1967. it's been a backup. it's tested on a quarterly basis. it was going from a backup to a primary. state law doesn't require permits for that to occur. >> what role did the michigan deq have in the process? we are bringing it back online. >> they would apply to us to get permits for modifications to the plant.รท >> when the city decides to change the water source how involved is the michigan deq? >> i think it's been mentioned it's unusual to go from one water source to another.
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and so the ri dwrks or should have been more when the water source changed. >> my next question is for professor edwards. we know not enough phosphates were added to make it less crow si. what's the lost oh of treating the water with the appropriate amount of phosphates? >> when the switch was made there was no phosphate added at all. federal law wasn't followed. in detroit water it would have cost 80 to 100 dollars a day. >> do you know why or why do you think no phosphates were added. isn't that a normal step you would take if you were running a facility.
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>> it's the law. you have to have a corrosionle control plan. this disaster would not have occur fd the phosphate had been added. that includes the legionella likely outbreak, the red water, the leaks of the plumbing system. in general, corrosion control for every dollar you spend on it, you save $10. in flint's situation for every dollar they spent they would have easily saved $1,000. my only explanation is that it probably did start innocently in the chaos of the turnover and someone simply forgot to follow the law. >> not including the phosphates is a problem regardless of the water source whether it was the flint river or another water source? >> you don't have to use phosphate. there are alternative approaches including ph and alkalinity adjustment. but you have to have a plan and you are supposed to be optimizing it to make sure you
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are protecting your pipes, your people. >> if you started to send phosphates or other chemicals. >> it's likely now over a few months of phosphate dosing the coding has been largely restored and if a federally approved lead and copper sampling was done there is a good chance flintle would pass. i can't say. until they actually do the testing we have to err on the side of caution and assume the water isn't safe to drink. flint has never done a lead and copper testing according to federal regular flagss. like many cities across the united states. the reason is they never did the first step required under the rule in 1997 to identify high risk homes from which you need to sample.
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what's clear in flint is they have never followed the first step. all of the prior sampling results are invalid. >> thank you. my time is expired. >> now recognize ms. norton from washington, d.c. >> thank you very much. ms. walters seems to be the only one hero in this episode and it is a citizen. on behalf of those of us on the panel i'm sure the citizens of flint i can only thank you. in our case it was the washington post. i should indicate what the point of my questions are. this really should be a problem-solving exercise. blame is pretty clear. the verdict is in.
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the responsibility of epa going back to a crisis in the nation's capital. now in flint. heaven knows and the state. even to be admitted. i want to alert my colleagues of the national implications of the hearing. in the nation's capital didn't alert people in 2000. surely this is the time for each of us to inquire of the appropriate authorities. if they are engaging in some of the tests that we had just heard described here. in the district, there were late term miscarriages and spontaneous abortions after an
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unusuallily high rate of lead was found in water between 2000 and 2003. when a corrosion control substance was added to the water miscarriages and spontaneous abortions reverted to the normal rate. ours was different. we have heard here about preflushing. mr. bovet says as i understand from the testimony there is a rule that says you can't preflush. but of course the epa doesn't know if people are preflushing at all and they were preflushing. to indicate it you're flushing away the lead, then you test. why? that's close to criminal act.
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is there monitoring of preflushing, just that one notion? i don't mean you go into every jurisdiction. i mean the kind of scientific monitoring that lets you know if preflushing is going on. >> there is -- >> do you monitor whether or not at this moment, preflushing is going on in jurisdictions, for example, that my colleagues represent. >> prestagnation flushing is a concern dr. edwards and others brought to your concern. it is something we are looking at now. >> the answer is no. watch out. when you are told there is no lead in the water, they could be preflushing. mr. creagh you concede fault and you weren't there at the time
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but you go back to the lead and copper rule. you talk about epa and the urgency. the only official here understanding there was a problem was mr. del toro of the epa. i understand there is no consensus on the lead and copper rule. let's look at the common sense way that corrosion is controlled. i tell you not only in the district of columbia buttal all over the united states. you are not asserting are you that you needed to somehow get a consensus on the lead and copper rule before deciding to use corrosion control when you changed sources of water.
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>> i am not. >> can i ask you this. >> this is a billion dollar problem if you go to change everybody's lead pipes. in the district we had a terrible situation where people actually went to the trouble of change ing pipes in their own home and it made the lead worse. unless the city deals with the lead pipes from your home it doesn't cure the problem and makes it worse. watch out for changing the lead pipes. all over the united states of america, your pipes are full of lead. neither the federal government nor your state. the federal government should have been pressing this, giving money for this. you should have been adding money to your own. that's a problem in our ancient water system. so i want to know how to get a quick fix now. these people aren't going to
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remove themselves from flint. they can't sell their homes now. nobody wants to come to flint. let's look at mr. creagh. let's look at corrosion control. that was the addition of a substance. that's how it's done in the united states. they are not yanking out every pipe. they are using this substance. are you committed to using this substance? what's the cost of the substance and how early can this chemical to control the lead to keep it from leaching into the water be inserted into the water supply. may i get a direct answer to that question? >> yes. that actually was the additional phosphate added on december 9 to increase the potential to
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phosphate those pipes. that's in progress and being done . >> is the water now safe to drink? >> we cannot guarantee at this point in time the water is safe to drink. if you could, mr. chairman, could i elaborate a little bit? >> please answer the question. >> we have mapped the parcels in flint we know of. there are 56,000 parcels. we put them on a gis database, if you will, to dr. edwards point. there is uncertainty as to where there is lead service lines. out of 30,000 known there is purported to be 5200 of those. what we are doing is overlaying that information while i was going door to door, knocking on doors and talking to individuals. those that would be willing to be part of a sample for them putting three-person team s in the homes of a plumber, someone
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who can actually address how to take a sample so you don't preflush, so it's stagnant, so it is a wide mouth bottle you pick up on a routine basis. we are working with the epa task force to see what type of interval makes sense before you can make that declarative statement. >> we now recognize the gentleman from florida for five minutes. >> thank you. it's good to follow the gentle lady from the district. i was here in '95 when we took over the district, put in a control board. at that time, if you think flint is bad, the district had hundreds of bodies of indigents that were stacked like cord. they couldn't bury. the kids were getting from a vendor only chicken and rice in the district's care. there were 60,000 people
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employed by the district. we had a crack-smoke ing mayor. we had about half a billion dollar running and half a billion dollar deficit. you don't have the government in flint to take that up. i remember when you had to boil water. i remember what the gentle lady said. the water was not safe to drink in this building. they taped the water fountains, told people to boil the water. in government we have a fundamental responsibility and that's this glass of water -- that's our responsibility to make sure the water is pure and drinkable. we call the superintendent's office to see if this is safe. they would not release to me a member of congress the tests here in the district. they said the committee just asked the superintendent to give us thes information from the
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last 15 or 20 years because i think we have a right to know if it's safe here in the nation's capital. i'm telling you, you are not being picked on alone. when you look at this and the district was taken over by a control board there wasn't even a local. representative kill dea said there was a 7-1 vote to let it happen. there is nothing wrong with the water from the flint river if it was properly treated and the water tested when it came out of the plant was fine. what happened was the gentleman from michigan said for lack of 80 to 100 dollars a day that's what you said which is about -- let me do the math. about $30,000 a year. and $50 million being cut or something.
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for that much money we poisoned the kids in flint, didn't we? that's what we did. she was properly termed a citizen and a hero. she is a citizen hero. she stepped up, ms. walters. thank god you stepped up and you persisted. look at the time frame though. they had the opportunity to act to put the phosphate in to control the degradation of the pipes. that wasn't done. she alerted them. that was back in -- when did you do that? in what month? >> that was in march of 2015. >> 2015 and it went on and on. >> do you know why the phosphates weren't added? >> why? >> because they didn't have the equipment at the treatment plant to add the phosphates. >> again, it's a simple solution that should have been placed in
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place and the state or federal government. you were blown off by the locals. >> yes, sir. >> by the state. >> yes, sir. >> you went to the federal government and they failed you, right? >> everybody but mr. del toro. >> exactly. this is unacceptable. we have a responsibility that niece kids. now, everybody has talked about blame and accountability. we should hold these people accountable. now we've got the kids who have drunk this water and are bathed in this water. every kid in that community should be tested. and then if there is residual results, don't you think someone should be responsible? it should be the state government, the federal government and the local government. should be responsible to make certain those kids now and in the future. now we need to test them. is that under way? >> yes, sir. test ing is available. >> then we should set aside a fund or whatever.
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we should make certain that these kids are taken care of. then it's gone on in flint, d.c., durham and it needs to stop. we need to make certain the system works. >> you're new on the block. >> yes, sir. >> thank you, citizen hero, we appreciate what you did. thank you. >> thank you. [ applause ] >> the audience is reminded to hold their applause, please. we now recognize mr. conley for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. we ought to be clear about flint. arguably one of the worst environmental tragedies in the modern era in the united states.
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it was man made. and it is the consequence actually of implement ing a political philosophy. of smaller government, rabid anti-regulation, attack after attack after attack on the epa because our financers don't like it. let's be clear how flint happened. it didn't happen by accident. it wasn't a 7-1 vote to switch water. they didn't vote on going to the river. those who want to argue that there is nothing wrong with the water. just add phosphate to it. please send a liter to that water to every one of my colleagues who want to take the position and watch them drink it.
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this is the consequence of putting ideology ahead of human beings. and their needs and welfare. the difference in political philosophy matters. political choices have consequences and flint is the most dramatic in our generation. i do j'accuse. i lay it at the doorstep of those with that philosophy. i want to see the governor at this table. [ applause ] if you're so passionate and sanctimonious about holding people accountable and god knows we have done that, let's have governor snyder at this table explaining himself. mr. creagh, the governor appointed a task force. the flint water advisory task
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force. this is their report to the governor. is that correct? ? >> they have issued interim letters to the governor. >> it's the governor's appointed task force. is that correct or not? >> yes, sir. >> let me see. december 29 that interim letter says and i quote , we believe primary responsibility for what happened in flint rests with your department, the deq. although many individuals in that city at state and local levels contributed to prolonging the problem, the michigan department of environmental quality is a government agency that has responsibility to ensure safe drinking water in michigan. it failed in that responsibility and must be held accountable for the failure. are you aware of the finding? that interim finding? >> i have read the letter, meat with the committee a couple of times. >> do you take issue with it? >> i do not. >> you agree ? >> in retrospect, i agree. >> hmm. okay. they then said it shall they
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characterized your agency's response, quote, an abysmal public response to the crisis, unquote . do you agree with that characterization? >> in retrospect, i think the auditor general agrees with that also that we were minimalistic and legalistic in our behavior. >> mr. edwards is the primary responsibility epa or deq? >> without question is primary responsibility is those paid to protect michigan's citizens from lead in water. that's their job. that lies squ s exclusively wit mdeq. >> we are hearing mushiness about that. let's blame the epa. the epa has some culpability here, no question. in terms of water quality, isn't that how it works? the epa relies on state deq,
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spaer certainly in virginia to carry out the responsibility of oversight of water quality, primari primarily. is that the case? >> that's correct. >> in this case were there warning flags at all for michigan deq about switching the source of water before they did it? >> well, if they weren't before as soon as they made the switch there was warning sign after warning sign. >> what did they do with the warning signs? >> they denied, denied and denied that there was a problem. >> that put ms. walters's people at risk. si give you the last word on how this happened. >> yes. it did put us at risk. it wasn't my job to figure out there was no corrosion control. they should have done it at the start. >> you had a reasonable expectation that you could rely on the government to protect you and your family. >> yes, i did. >> thank you very much. i yield back. >> you recognize the gentleman from arizona mr. gozar for five
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minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. administrator, thank you for appearing. when did the epa first learn of high lead level s in flint's water. >> i think there were indications in the spring of 2015 with the testing of ms. walters's house and neighboring houses that high lead levels were found there. >> i understand the concept. i deal a lot with water. that epa, the environmental quality. but it's set up as a checks and balances. don't you agree? >> epa has oversight responsibility. >> would you agree, mr. edwards? >> yes, i do. >> so if something fails there is another line that should come about. i will go along this line with the epa. when did epa administrator mccarthy first visit flint about this crisis. >> i believe yesterday was administrator mccarthy's first visit to flint. >> it wasn't until yesterday she
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visited for the first time. so the day before this hearing. administrator mccarthy knew about the crisis for eight months but didn't visit flint untille the day before a congressional hearing. >> i don't believe administrator mccarthy knew about the crisis for eight months. >> really. something as dynamic as this and you didn't relay that up the chain? >> well, i came into this job in november of 2015. i don't have personal knowledge of communications that were done. >> what's today? >> today is -- >> february, 2016, right? by the way, i'm a health care provider, a dentist. you triage things. this is something that's a dynamic tragedy. because it's an ongoing problem. wouldn't you agree. >> i agree. >> wouldn't you put the highest priority on that application to figure out what went wrong and accept some of the blame and try to go forward? would you not? >> this absolutely is our highest priority. >> it doesn't show it to me. if she knew in november it's
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february before she shows up in flint? >> the epa has been engaged in this situation. >> it's the same old thing. you have to remember this is the same epa that knew what was going to happen in a mine blow- and now has a lot of people all the way down from colorado, utah, california and arizona at risk because of some of their actions. so, yes, everybody -- desires or should take some of the blame. but some of the blame goes to the epa. and it goes to the head honcho. just like for an example for me in my office, somebody comes into my office and something goes wrong, i'm accountable for that. i find it despicable that the gina mccarpety, the administrator, shows up in flint yesterday, instead of going this immediately. particularly when we see the outrage from the other side and from the people in this audience in regards to children, and the lead poisoning that occurs. that's just despicable. administrator beauvais and an
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epa employee, susan headman tried to discuss the seriousness of the memo in july of 2015 stating it was a draft and stating that the memo should are have not been released and that it never had approval from the epa hierarchhierarchy. she resigned? >> yes. >> why? >> she resigned to make sure the region in the epa could be a fully response. >> why wasn't she fired? >> she stepped aside in order to make sure we could focus our attention -- >> to make sure the administrator has that question because we're going to ask that when the administrator is here. why wasn't she fired. the initial memo was sent june 24th. miss headman promised a final memo. was a final memo ever released? >> i believe the final memo was released in october. >> november. >> november. >> was it a comprehensive memo that details the chronicness and dynamic aspect of this tragedy?
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>> there particular memo that mr. dell toro did was focused on the testing of lead at mrs. walters' house and the neighboring homes. >> but this memo i understand, is not even nearly comprehensive aspect that would you consider it a shell of a release? >> the memo was focused on the specific testing that was done at mrs. walters' house and the neighboring homes and was a comprehensive look at that situation. it is not the entirety of epa's review of the situation. >> director korea, i appreciate your testimony today and you're the one person that has accepted responsibility and your governor has done the same through this crisis even though there's fault all the way across, that's commendable. do you believe the incident would have occurred had the flint city council not voted to change its water source? >>. >> i think this incident occurred because of the lack of ortho phosphate being added.
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>> but if you never made the change, you would have never had the catastrophic event, right? >> that's a true statement. >> what would have happened if the city would have followed the directions of its water utility consultant? >> thery a couple of different consultants and it would have minimized the problem. >> and what would have happened if the city would have followed the proper corrosive treatment? >> as dr. edwards stated, we would not have had this problem. >> so a series of checks and balances. everybody pointing the finger and nobody wanting to take the blame except for yourself and the governor. i find that -- very humblingly bad. that the government is, is not being part of the solution here. so with that, i yield back. >> i thank the gentleman, i now recognize the ranking member, mr. cummings. >> mr. chairman sh i was going to let mr. cartwright go. but mr. creagh, i'm getting very
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concerned about your testimony. because i want you to remind you that you are sworn to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. so let's go over what you just said. and i got to get it right in here. because i'm kind of concerned. because i don't want the public to not see this for the accurate truth. mr. creagh, governor snyder recently named you as the new head of the michigan department of environmental quality last month. your boss, governor snyder, and i'm hoping he's watching, by the way. gave this 2016 state of the state address. in his speech, governor snyder seemed to take responsibility for the flint crisis. stating that and i quote the buck stops here. with me. and that quote i take full responsibility to fix the problem so that it will never happen again. however, in the same breath governor snyder also tried to
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blame the city of flint, this sounds like your doing, right now, and he said this, and i quote, this crisis began in the spring of 2013 when the flint city council voted 7-1 to buy water from the corringadudi water authority, end quote. mr. creagh, do you agree with governor snyder's statement? >> the question that i responded to, sir, was if they would never have changed their water source, would this issue have happened. and i believe that's a true statement. because they were on detroit water and sewer department water. which was phosphated. and they had a 30-year history. so i apologize if i misrepresented that. >> i'm not finished, just hold on, i'm not finished. >> we've reviewed the resolution passed by the city council. and the minutes from the meeting, and at no point during
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the meeting did the city council vote to allow the flint river to be used for drinking water. isn't that correct, mr. creagh? >> i haven't reviewed those personally, but that's my understanding. >> mr. chairman, i would like to introduce into the record a letter we just received yesterday, from sheldon a. neely who served on the city council from 2005-2014. he was actually there, he was there, mr. creagh, all right? mr. his letter, enter neely explains that the city council did not -- can we have the letter? where's the letter? got it? where's the letter? they have it. in his letter mr. neely explains that the city council did not make the decision to use the flint river because quote the flint city council had no power to actually enact any laws for the community. everything went through the
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emergency manager. end of quote. who was appointed by the governor. he also says this and i quote -- did you need something? >> we'll enter the record without objection, ordered. >> you're making me nervous. this is what he said. it was the emergency manager ed kurtz who made the decision to use the flint river as a primary source of drinking water for the city of flint. mr. creagh, are you aware of mr. kurtz' actions? >> no, sir. i was not in the seat at the time. >> and mr. creagh, so mr. neely also wrote that quote governor snyder's account of the events leading to this water crisis are completely wrong, end of quote. why would governor snyder try to blame the city council for this decision when it was his own appointee who made it and you have a city council that has no
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authority? there's something wrong with that. that's why i interjected here, because i want the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. [ applause ] >> now let me ask you, i'm not finished. do you have any reason to believe that mr. neely is not telling the truth? >> i have no reason to believe. >> mr. neely's letter is supported by statements from flint's former mayor, dane waling, on january 22, 2016 he stated, after city council and i expressed support for a new water supply from lake huron, the emergency manager, edward kurtz went behind closed doors with the department of environmental quality and decided to use the flint river as an interim source, made the budget changes and put that in place, end of quote. were you aware of mayor walling's statement? >> i am not. >> based on the evidence, it seems that governor snyder was trying to blame the city of
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flint for actions of his own appointee. and he did this in his state of the state address, to the entire population of flint. now let me ask you something else. are the people paying right now, for water that they cannot wash in and cannot use and not drink? are they paying water bills? and is it part of the recovery. you said you want to make them whole? is that part of it? why would they be for water that they cannot even use that is poison them? that's not american. that's mr. chairman said. this is not a third-world country. are they paying those bills? are you going do relieve them of that? >> everyone deserves safe drinking water. and that's the expectation. and yesterday the governor introduced a supplemental for
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$30 million to help with that issue. the number one issue as we've spoken with the mayor, is to make sure the utility remains solvent. and the billing is actually more of a city issue. but we understand and respect that. and everyone deserves water that is safe. >> mr. chairman, as i close, these are people who are struggling. they're struggling. they've come over here all the way here from flint, i don't know how they got here. i guess on a bus. but the fact that they're here. but you know what, mr. creagh? and mr. chairman? they're also americans. they're also americans, just like you, and just like your children. and i don't -- i want to be real, real, real clear -- and the chairman will bear me out on this. i have said i don't care whether it's epa, whether it's local, whether it's state.


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