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tv   Politics and Public Policy Today  CSPAN  February 5, 2016 1:00pm-3:01pm EST

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he loses in a split decision to apollo creed. no one thinks he's going to do well. he does remarkably well but he does not win. in "rocky ii," he knocks out apollo creed in the most implausible boxing scene ever. but rocky wins. these were both very popular movies in 1976 and 1979, but these are much more than just sports movies. these are movies about race. these are movies about american history. >> at 10:45 brooklyn law professor christopher beecham talks about his book arguing alexander graham bell solely remembered as the inventor of the telephone because he secured a patent monopoly. saturday morning at 10:00 on road to the white house rewind with the upcoming first in the nation new hampshire primary, we look back at the 1992 presidential campaign and arkansas governor democrat bill
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clinton second place finish in new hampshire and his positioning as the comeback kid. >> while the evening is young and we don't know yet what the final tally will be, i think we know enough to say with some certainty that new hampshire tonight has made bill clinton the comeback kid. [ cheers and applause ] >> we'll also feature both democratic and republican ads that aired in the granite state including those of bill clinton and george h.w. bush. and at 8:00 p.m. on the presidency, university of washington history professor margaret o'mara talks about her book, pivotal tuesdays. and argues that the 20th century was shaped by four elections that occurred during economic and cultural change starting with the election of 1912. for the complete american history tv weekend schedule, go to the house oversight and government reform committee heard testimony earlier this week from state and federal
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officials about lead contamination in the water supply of flint, michigan. witnesses included the head of the epa water office along with the director of michigan department of environmental quality. also appearing was a resident of flint who first called the epa to her home earlier last year to test the water that had become discolored. chair jason chaffetz said his committee has issued subpoenas to three officials who refuse to appear before his panel, and that would include former flint emergency manager darnell early.
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>> committee on the oversight government reform will come to work. chair is authorized to declare recess at any time. chairman is responsible under the rules of the house and committee to maintain order and preserve decorum in the committee room. we appreciate your participation here today, but i'd remind everybody this is a congressional hearing. and there is a certain decorum that we would appreciate everybody's participation in. i believe there's people in the overflow room and what not. we're glad to do this and have everybody here today. prior to opening statements, i want to address some people who probably should be here that
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were invited to be here and others that members on both sides wanted to be hear. we have two panels today, i think this will be a good first step moving forward. some people have wanted the governor to be here, some people have wanted the epa administrator to be here. we're 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 toral is the program manager for region five water division at the epa. this by all appearances 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. leeanne walters, who we're going to hear testimony in our second panel from, contacted the
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epa in february of 2015. keep the time line in place. february of 2015. mr. toral was very responsive and came to her house and tested the water. in that same month. he was sent an invitation to appear as a witness before the committee.=ci> we did that last week. but in further discussions with the epa and given his excessive and appropriate responsiveness to the committee we have come to understand he's very active in the cleanup 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 week. we think that is a good and productive step forward. we did not compel or push to have mr. toral come before us today and a consultation with
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the democrats i think this is the right move. susan hedman is the former region five administrator to the epa. she is no stranger to the committee. july of 2015 we held a hearing about mismanagement and retaliation at the epa in region five which is based in chicago. this has been a problem for the committee and her actions in management. again, she is the former epa administrator for region five. now i have a few documents that i'd like to enter into the record so i would ask unanimous consent to enter a june 24, 2015 e-mail, memo, from miguel toral to thomas poy, who's the chief groundwater -- at the drinking water branch. part of this e-mail says "recent drinking water sample results indicate the presence of high lead results in the drinking water."
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without objection, that will be entered into the record. i also have an april 27 e-mail from miguel toral to thomas poy. "flint has not been operating in a corrosive control treatment which is very concerning given the likelihood of lead service lines in the city." without objection, i'll enter that into the record. we have e-mail here that is dated july 1 from susan hedman to dane walling, the mayor of flint, "the preliminary draft report should not have been released outside of the agency." without objection, we'll enter that into the record. and another one from susan hedman to dane walling "i'm not inclined for my staff to have any further communication with the aclu representative. we need to focus on finalizing the report.
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in the meantime, however, i have no objection to the city letting them know that the report he was given was preliminary draft and that he would be premature to draw any conclusions based on that draft." again, this is july. you'll see that this has been redacted. the top part. the epa has agreed by the end of the week we will get these non-redacted versions of these e-mails. without objection, we'll enter these four documents into the record. the committee requested a transcribed interview with ms. hedman in a letter sent to the epa last week. shortly after the extent of the crisis in flint became public, ms. hedman resigned her position in late january. her resignation effective on monday. the epa has agreed to provide all of ms. hedman's e-mails by the end of the week. today -- this one right here, we are issuing a subpoena for susan
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hedman to appear before the committee and participate in a deposition: 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 appoint the position in 2013 and tasked with overseeing flint's finances. mr. early left his position in january of 2015 flint city council voted 7-1 to make the transition from detroit city water. the committee sent -- he's vital to understanding what happened and how these decisions were made. committee sent mr. early an invite letter last week. he knew this was happening and he knew he was invited to 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 in committee, is not optional.
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when you get invited to come to the oversight and government reform committee, you are going to show up. 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 subpoena. [ applause ] 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 be issued today but we'll need the help of the united states marshals. i forgot to issue one other document. i'd ask unanimous consent to
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enter into this document, this is -- for the record, sorry, enter into the record. this is from susan hedman. this is a december 10, 2015. "natural resources defense council petitioned back in october to get the epa to do its job. again, further delaying it led to members of the public to look at this but i ask unanimous consent to enter that into the record. so i don't know if mr. cummings has any business or things he wants to enter into the record. with that, let us transition, 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 let's go to the opening statement. i would like to yield to the gentleman from michigan, mr.
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walberg, for his comments. >> thank you, mr. chairman, i thank you for taking this issue, this hearing and spent very seriously. it is a serious issue. i recognize my good friend and colleague representative kildee, the gentleman from flint, the efforts you've carried on is important. for michigan it's important but i would mention that 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 and so to mr. kildee, thank you for raising this. for 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
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oversight and reform committee to do the very thing that's necessary, to do oversight and then reform to make it right where we can. sadly. i think of it as a grandfather and father. i wouldn't want my kids or my grand kids 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's 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 to 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.
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again, this was a failure of government. a 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, it's 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. this will be an effort that's bipartisan. you've seen our delegation step up even with legislation to assist in this deal. i hope today's hearing will begin to shine the light on how this tragedy happened, who is involved, how we can make it right and how we can never let
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it a again so we can move forward together to fix and ensure that this american ideal that allows people to be free, safe, secure, and upwardly mobile happens to a great degree by principles developed in this hearing. mr. chairman, i thank you and yield back. >> thank you. i would remind the audience, displays of approval or disapproval, clapping, not necessarily appropriate for this committee hearing so if you would please refrain from applause and what not we would all appreciate it. this is the united states of america. this isn't supposed to happen here. we're not some third world country where you get a hundred thousand people who get poisoned, poisoned, for long period of times. 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 physically cannot even understand or comprehend what
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the parents and the loved ones and individuals who have been drinking that water have been going through and i'm disappointed in the response at the local level, at the state level and at the federal level. this is a failing at every level. it's absolutely and fundamentally 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, i chatted with her for a moment before, ms. walters, and 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 time to our ranking member mr. cummings for his
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opening comments. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. mr. chairman, mr. kildee and i really appreciate you and mr. lawrence for all of your efforts for requesting this hearing and making it happen and mr. chairman i want to yield three minutes to my distinguished colleague ms. lawrence from michigan for her opening. >> thank you, mr. chairman, and to the ranking member cummings. i want to personally thank you for holding this hearing. in my letter to the chairman on january 12 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 in age in our great country and our great home of michigan where
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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 air that they can breathe that will not harm their bodies. we in government have failed them. providing these basic needs, we've failed their trust. i'm pleased ms. walters 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 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
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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 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 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've walked through flint, met with so many people. and the heart and courage you're having during this crisis, i want you to know i'm standing with you, i will fight for you and mr. kildee i will be right there with you. my objective is that never again
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in america we can fix this but we have to have those who made the decisions come forward and give answers and i yield back my time. >> mr. chairman, the -- we are the last line of defense. i thank you for calling this hearing because there's some chairman that would haven't called it and i mean that, they would haven't 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, i thank you for being here i believe we have a moral obligation to conduct a
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comprehensive investigation of this crisis. and let's be clear, this 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
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i say everyone, i mean everyone. you would hear testimony from everyone involved and you would 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 the driving force behind michigan's emergency manager law which he signed in 2011 and invoked to take over the city of flint from its local elected leaders. the governor hand picked appointees to run the city and they decided to use water from the flint river. he also led the michigan department of environmental
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quality which failed to protect the people of flint. according to the governor's task force 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. with asked the chairman to send the same kind of document request to governor snyder that he sent to the epa 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.
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that is totally unacceptable to the people of flint. it should be totally unacceptable to the 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.
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if we act selectively for political reasons then we become a part of the problem. 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 ask our letter be inserted
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into the official hearing record, mr. chairman. >> without objection so order. >> 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. and 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 a host of economic and infrastructure hardships. this adversity coupled with widespread lead exposure means
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that flint's children will require significant help in coping with the impact of lead on their physical and behavioral health and development, their schooling and much more." as i close, mr. chairman, it is our job here on this committee and in this congress to make sure this help is provided these to these kids. but, mr. chairman, not only to the kids but to the adults and every citizen of flint to ensure they are not forgotten after these hearings end. 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's a fellow who had a song that i used to love, he never had any hits in my
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district but he sang a song, his name was cat stevens. and cat stevens said "oh, 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 says, we will do in the a bipartisan way. thank you, mr. chairman, i yield back. >> thank the gentleman. you should have applauded that.
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[ applause ] [ laughter ] all right, thank you. all right so we're good now. 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 thing happen. and we're going to have a good hearing today. i hold the record open for five legislative days for any member who would like to submit a written statement. the chair also notes the presence today of former chairman of this committee mr. conyers of michigan. we would ask unanimous consent to allow him to participate in today's hearing. without objection, so ordered. we're also pleased to note the presence of congressman morgan griffith of virginia, appreciate him joining us today and ask unanimous consent 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
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house and common courtesy to our colleagues in a situation like this to allow a member who represent this 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 will recognize him for five minutes mr. kildee? >> thank you, mr. chairman, for holding this hearing and 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 guidance and allegiance to the city of the people of flint and my colleague congresswoman lawrence with whom i've worked on this from the beginning. thanks for having my back and the back of the people of the city of flint. i know we have the heroes of this story on the panel that i'm anxious to listen to but flint is my hometown.
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i grew up in flint. i raised my children in flint. when we leave here at the end of every week i fly home to flint. i'm a son of this town. and so it breaks my heart to see what's happening. 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 appreciate the outrage that members of congress and my colleagues have expressed. but my hope is that outrage translates into something more than just sharing the misery of the people of flint or sympathy for the people of flint, we need
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to provide help for the folks in flint. flint is a strong community. we have been through really tough times. we'll get 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 is still not yet safe to drink in flint high levels of lead continue to show up in testing. the reason i'm here and wanted to make comments is that i want to make sure that as this committee pursues its responsibility that we focus on the facts of this case and make sure 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
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have absolute authority over local governments. so when we talk about failure of government at every level, let's be clear about one point, one very important point. every decision that was made for the city of flint that related to this crisis was made by a state-appointed emergency manager so when referring to local decisions there are some who are trying to obfuscate 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. that's an important point. making matters worse. the reason an emergency manager was required in flint in the first place is because of big factors over time, the loss of our manufacturing base, but at the same time the state of
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michigan cut an essential element of city resources. it cut the money that goes to support cities from its budget. the city has a $50 million general fund. 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 take over is sent in 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 city of flint 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 the water was properly treated and that emergency manager failed. let me show you one exhibit so
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you have an understanding. this is the order by the emergency manager to switch to the flint river. and, again, there's a public relations campaign under way right now to try to say these were local decisions or no it was 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 a critical decision that was made that precipitated this entire crisis. after that switch was made, citizens began to speak up. leeanne walters is on the next panel. she is one of the heroes of this story. let me be clear, the heroes are those who brought it to light. and they're not public officials. they're citizens, activists, people who would not be quiet.
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leeanne 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 this question. what was the response of the michigan department of environmental quality when these issues were raised? to discredit the voices calling their attention to this problem. whether it was dr. marc edwards from virginia tech who you will hear from, the state of michigan tried to discredit his research, a guy who 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's an effort to try to create some false equivalency of responsibility. i'm critical of the epa in this case, don't get me wrong i have legislation that hopefully will be bipartisan taken up soon that
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would require much greater transparency by the epa. i wish that as soon as the epa discovered there were problems with the water in flint that they would shout it from the mountain top. instead they kept insisting the department of environmental quality do its job, which ill -- 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 am submitting to you. it's a memo from the michigan department of environmental quality to the department the epa, this is dated february 27 of 2015, almost a year ago indicating that flint has an optimized corrosion control program.
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they did not. so to hold the epa accountable, i want to hold them accountable for transparency but let's make sure we get the facts right. it was the michigan environment department quality telling the epa they had this thing under control. that they were using corrosion control in flint when they were not. i would have preferred the epa let me know, let the community know they had this data and let us force the deq to do its job, they didn't and that's their failure. but it is not their failure to not insist 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 hanna-attisha, she began to look
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at blood levels in children. and it showed elevated 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 minimize this problem as if it did not exist. there's 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 from 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.
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let me just conclude by saying a couple of things. 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. but just for the people of 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's responsible, the state of michigan was responsible, as the ranking member said. has primacy for the enforcement of the lead and copper rule. the state of michigan was running the city of flint itself at the time these decisions were made. and the state of michigan denied
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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 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. and you'll 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
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made and can't really testify to what happened then in realtime. we were there. leeanne walters was there. marc edwards was there. dr. mona was there. the people of flint knew what was happening. so the state to my point of view, from 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. 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
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$60 million that the mayor of flint has asked for to replace the lead service lines. he's sitting on a billion surplus. he should ask for that money tomorrow. and then should commit to not just fix the infrastructure, but to 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 or next year but for the entire trajectory of their developmental 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
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should be held to make it right. with that, mr. chairman, appreciate the opportunity to speak and i yield back, thank you. >> thank you for your participation and passion. those documents you referred to will be entered into the record what we will do now is recess for approximately four minutes. don't go anywhere. the clerks need to reset for panel number two and we will go from there. the committee stands in recess. we now have our -- the committee will come to order. the committee will now recognize
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the second panel. pleased to welcome mr. joel beauvais, the office of water at the united states environmental protection agency. mr. keith creagh is the director of the department of environmental quality for the state of michigan. mr. marc edwards, the charles p. lunsford professor of environmental and water resources engineering at the virginia polytechnic institute t and ms. leeanne walters, a resident and parent from michigan. we welcome you all and thank yo, for your participation today.swe pursuant to committee rules, all witnesses will be sworn before d they testify. if you will please rise and raise your right hand. do you solemnly swear or affirmt the testimony you give will be e the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth?
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thank you. you may be seated. let the record reflect that all witnesses answered in the d ovet affirmative.would in order to allow time for further discussion and you 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, you are recognized for five minutes. d >> thank you, good morning, mr. chairman, ranking member r of cummings, distinguished members of the committee. my name is joel beauvais and i o serve as deputy assistant administrator of epa's office of water.espons thank you for the opportunity to testify about epa's response tot the drinking water crisis in ay flint, michigan. i spent the day yesterday in flint with administrator mccarthy and members of epa's yr response team on the ground. we met with mayor weaver, dr. hanna-attisha and other
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community leaders and members.nd the situation in flint is leves critical and demands urgent and sustained action at all levels a of government to protect the inl public and help the city work recover. epa is intensely engaged in wor. to restore safe drinking water p in flint in coordination with the broader federal response oil effort.r have what happened in flint was unde avoidable and should never have happened. under the safe drinking water act, congress directed epa to set national standards but assigned primary responsibility to the states to implement and enforce the law. o epa maintains federal oversight of state programs. that system, while imperfect, has achieved major gains in drinking water safety s nationwide. the situation that gave rise to the current crisis in flint of a large public water system switching from purchasing al. treated water to using an untreated water source is highly unusual. under federal regulations, the
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city was required to obtain prior approval from the switch from the michigan department of environmental quality. mdeq advised the city of flint r that corrosion control treatmenc was not necessary. failure to implement such treatment resulted in leeching of lead into the city's drinking water. epa regional staff encouraged ol them to take action in corrosion control but encountered resistance. water delays in informing the public and treating the water have had serious health consequences. all parties involved need to ap take steps to understand how it this happened and to ensure it never happens again.invest several have views and investigations, including a u.s. department of justice investigation are under way in michigan. administrator mccarthy has asked epa's inspector general to undertaken a independent review of epa's response and its oversight of mdeq.
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epa looks forward to receiving and acting promptly upon the lo results of that review.eview. administrator mccarthy issues a' agency-wide elevation policy ve directing epa's leadership to s encourage prompt and decisive action to address critical en public health concerns.s and ot further, we are committed to engaging with state, system operators and other stakeholderr to identify and address lessons from hunt from and other potential drinking water risks. epa is working hard to address the public health energy in exr flint.n cont since last october, our flint safe drinking water task force has provided by technical assistance to the city and mdequ on corrosion control treatment c and proper lead testing. in november, epa announced we are conducting an audit of mdeq's drinking water program te assess its performance and identify changes. on january 21, epa issued an emergency order under the safe drinking water act directing the state so michigan, mdeq and the
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city of flint to take actions necessary to ensure corrosion control is reoptimized and that the city establishes the capacity to operate its drinkint water system in compliance with the law.nd following president obama's plod emergency a declaration in nse january, the administration has deployed a multi-agency responss effort in flint.inclu epa has established a wa significant presence on the ground including sciences, water quality experts, response personnel and community engagement coordinators. in addition to providing deck i any catechnical assistance to o task force, they are providing ongoing work to trrestore flint system. we are sharing information with the public in a timely way and continue to work with the city, state and community to get er rl flint's water system back on track. epa is committed to strength anything the lead copper rule to cover 68,000 systems nationwidee we are working on revisions to
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the rule.isory last december we received we w extensive recommendations from our drinkingi advisory council and other concerned stake f we willli carefully consider th input and national experience in implementing the role including the events in flint as we r-term develop the improvement. in the near term we'll be s working with states and th stakeholders to take near-term o to strengthen immenation of the existing role. thank you for the opportunity ta testify today. i welcome you rep. chaffetz and other ranking members. thank you for the opportunity to be here to discuss the flint thank you ranking members of the committee and senator ranking reform. my name is keith craigh. more i want to start by apologizing to members of flint. government levels should have ea done more and we must fully ost investigate what happened in order to make sure it will neve
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happen again. in addition, most urgently we must fix the problem for flint. this is a complex issue. we must collect samples and certify the criteria immediate the lead and copper rule. the state of michigan is responsible for insuring compliance with the copper rule and the safe drinking act. the u.s. epa set drinking standards to provide oversight h to makee sure the standards are met and too audit the state's programs. in flint theirst r implementati the copper rule was in effect in protecting public health.wa when this came back at six parte per billion in january 2013, corrosion treatment was not lel regardless of this in hindsight when lead levels began to rise, corrosion treatment should have been required by thehe out, dep
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of environmental quality.ring the office said the municipal assistance relied on technical . assistance. it is s noteworthy the lead anda copper rule would havend allowed 23 months to begin the treatments. it has now become clear that the lead and copper rule is outdated and inadequate from lead, especially in communities with l aging infrastructure such as flint. i'm confident that the many reviews of this situation from o the u.s. department ofss t just to the inner agency 18 to the l missions attorney general will decide the corrections needed to ensure the government at all levels can provide safe, clean, drinking water to citizens. i would like -- snyder aounced ap
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planet to address the floodwater emergency. the state emergency operations center was operated. since then we have handed out 100,000 water filters, 32,000 one existing sampling gets. i also want to highlight the state's five pound simply plan. sampling plan. although this is not a scientific sampling pool, initial results have shown lead in water with 93% of sampling below the federal action level of 15 parts per billion. testing of additional schools and figures is underway. screening and additional
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follow-up for children with elevated lead levels in the blood are being coordinated by the michigan department of health and human services. identities and of several sites is occurring to allow for long-term monitoring and testing of water in conjunction the epa and city.the state will achieve these deliverables identified in the epa order, sent on january 31. since the issuance of the order, the state and ep have had productive and constructive conversationsa on a unified path forward. while we certainly appreciate the dialogue that has occurred, consultation with the state before the order was issued would have provided clarity to the many issues the state was already under way in addressing. indeed, it is puzzling that the order was issued so long after the state response began, without mentioning the steps already underway. to be successful, we, stthe state, need a stressed based partnership with the epa, the city of flint, and other agencies at the local and county levels. i appreciate the relationships
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that have been established between myself, mayor weaver, through our weekly calls and meetings. in closing, we know the task ahead is important, as is the restoration of the public's trust. governor snyder is dedicated to provide the resources to find solutions. we look to our congressional and federal partners to provide leadership on federal resources that can be leveraged to address problems related to the flint water crisis. we will not rest until this problem is solved and the people of flint our assured they again have water that is safe for them and their families. i thank you again for the opportunity to come before you. i look forward to answering any questions you may have. rep. chaffetz: mr. edwards. mr. edwards: thank you. this is the third time, unfortunately, that i have testified before conference -- before congress about the epa lead and copper rule.
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2004, weet on this in talked about the deficiencies o >> i wish i didn't know you so well because when we met on this in 2004, we talked about the deficiencies of epa, the loopholes in the regulation and all of what we could have learned from washington, d.c. was derailed. and frankly, the only thing that we learned in washington, d.c. was that these agencies paid to protect us from lead and drinking water can get away with anything. so i am really begging you to do what we didn't do the last two times i appeared before this committee, which is to fix the epa lead and copper rule and to fix the u.s. epa. the agencies involved in protecting children from lead and drinking water in this country including the u.s. centers for disease control, the epa, primacy agencies and the
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water utilities have proven themselves time and time again unworthy of the public's trust. they cannot be trusted to fix this problem. they have repeatedly engaged in scientific misconduct and in the written testimony i submitted to the committee, i outlined over the last ten years five examples of falsified reports from these agencies that have conclusions directly endangering children in this country that have caused children to be lead poisoned and they refused to correct the scientific record even in the case of an epa report that they now acknowledge has no data, no data after nine years. i tried to get this report corrected. they refused to retract this report. so their callous disregard for
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the most vulnerable amongst us is really played out most recently in flint, michigan. and residents there have been living a surreal experience. it's part 1984, part enemy of the people. and i am personally shamed that the profession i belong to, the drinking water industry in this country has allowed to, this to occur. so in closing, i really am just begging you, please, please, do what these agencies have refused to do. protect kids in this country from lead in drinking water. and let's make them live up to their noble mission and once again be worthy of the public trust. i yield my time to leann. >> the gentleman is yielding back. ms. walters, you are now
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recognized for five minutes. >> my home used to be a place of safety and comfort for my family. 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 life crisis a decade ago because now we know the horror of poison running through our tap in the negligence in the agencies paid to protect us. in 2014 in a city with no democracy, forced under emergency management, hand-picked by governor snyder, a decision was made to switch the water source without the proper testing and enforcement of regulation. the mdeq claimed they misinterpreted law involving corrosion control. they were allowed to tell epa they were following the law without verification. the citizens in flint were assured for 18 months that the water was safe. my home was being tested because
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of the discoloration of the water. we fought the city and the state saying there was something wrong and we were dismissed. i decided we needed to get to the science if anyone was ever going to believe us. i started researching and educating myself about water. i had three tests done by the city of print using extra steps that tend to minimize lead and water. those numbers were 104 parts per billion, 397 parts per billion and 307 parts per billion. i contacted the epa and started working with mr. deltoro i did not believe there was corrosion control in the water providing documentation about this fact and he verified my findings and was furious. mr. deltoro questioned the mdeq, first they lied and later admitted the truth.
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i figured out they were aiding this with their life. i made this public because people had a right to know. with the report public, susan headman, epa, apologized to the mayor of flint and to the mdaq because of policy. no one but mr. deltoro was willing to do their job. he was told to forward all media requests including his personal time. he was not advised to talk about flint or to anyone from flint. in a meeting i had with mdax, leann smith bragged to me about how mr. deltoro had been handled, 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 the entire community while punishing
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and silences the one person willing to help us. i started doing independent testing with virginia tech and 30 tests were done. tests performed in accordance with the lcr. myarm was 25 parts per billion. my highest was 13,500 parts per billion. hazardous waste by thousands. regardless of this information and the fact my son had lead poisoning, the city and the mdaq still told everyone the water was safe as the epa sat by and watched in silence. because the state and federal government failed us with the help of virginia tech, we conducted citizen based sampling. we educated and distributed 300 samples equally throughout the city and collected back 277 samples. all of this is done in a three-week turnaround. here are the facts. after the tragedy in d.c. from 2001 to 2006, where children were poisoned by lead and water, the epa should have closed loopholes to protect the
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citizens. had the epa closed the loopholes, it could have 100% prevented what took place in flint. epa failed to protect people by refusing to ban partial replacement. the epa's national report from 2006 states that the lack of system response is especially true to inform the public. it is done less than one-third of the time. for my research, i have found this is not a flint problem or a rare anomaly. this is a national problem. only ten states test accurately according to the ldr. 21 states do not reveal sampling instructions and 19 states have testing similar to loopholes similar to the michigan ones. there's no adjustable reason for testing loopholes except for lead. pre-flush, small-mouth bottles. these are currently advised by the epa to change the lcr.
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these will weaken an already broken system and i'm outraged the epa allows this dishonesty with testing nationally. we have no choice. we trust no one but virginia tech. there are people in flint today still not being assisted during this crisis. illegal immigrants, disabled and shut-ins. broken policy and procedures are smothering the outcry of the entire community suffering financially, physically, mentally and emotionally. i urge you to help restore some of 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. >> thank you. thank you for that testimony. now we'll recognize the gentleman from michigan, mr. wahlberg, for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman.
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thank you to the panel. you're a good panel to have in front of us to start this investigation here at this level. mr. bouvet, in his testimony, director creigh noted that in response to the release of miguel detoro's june 24, 2015 memo stating this is the epa e-mail that i quote from. quote, i want to remind you that miguel's report had deq cc'd. so if they say you were all cc'd, you can truly respond it was the report not to be sent to the cc 's. consequently, you never received a report from miguel. who sent that e-mail and why would the epa tell mdaq they
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never received the report which identified the lack of corrosive controls in place? >> my understanding is that the e-mail to which you're referring was from a staffer in region five named jennifer cook. i have seen the e-mail. i do not know why that e-mail was sent. >> is there -- 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 inspector general to undertake an evaluation and assessment and independent review of what happened here. and we need to get to the bottom of that and all the other faculty. >> what was miguel deltoro punished for for releasing this home moe? >> i am not aware of that. miguel deltoro is a nationally known member. he's recently spoken to this committee.
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>> mr. edward, do you believe mr. deltoro was punished by the epa? >> not in writing. not in writing but the way epa operates in general is that people who are causing trouble by doing their job are simply not allowed to do their job. they are silent at mr. deltoro was. they are told like leann said by the ethics officer at epa not to speak to anyone from flint or about flint. he told me that himself before he was unable to talk to me anymore. >> mr. edwards, dr. edwards, do you believe the epa is aware of local municipalities that are not following the testing requirement under the lead and copper rule? >> yes, i think that the epa in general cast the blame, blind eye on these municipalities who are not following.
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>> 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 air aerator. epa wrote a memo that banned that protocol. but they know as we speak today that water utilities still use that protocol, even after it was banned and caused lead poisoning in children in durham. it's extremely frustrating. >> their response, would you conclude is because of a lack of clarity in the federal regulations? or lack of enforcement for both? >> in a written letter i wrote to epa office of water, i said point-blank that the only thing i can conclude is that they don't care about children lead poisoned from drinking water.
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>> why do you think the epa has this problem? i mean, that's a pretty strong statement. and i guess we'll look for further testimony, but why does the epa have this problem? >> you would have to ask them why they refuse to do the job they're paid to do. >> do you believe they're violating the law? >> i believe they're not enforcing the law. they're not enforcing their own policies. and they have created this environment in which basically anything goes. >> and this is manifested itself very clearly in flint? >> yes, 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 is a fact. >> i have more questions but it
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seems my time has expired. i yield back. >> thank you, chairman. i remind the committee that we had a hearing here in july about region five, about susan headman. we had five whistleblowers saying that people were being retaliated against for bringing complaints before that region. and it's so frustrating that that was not dealt with when it was brought up. it never should have happened in the first place and obviously continued because she just retired on monday. yes. >> very briefly, mr. chairman, back on that hearing, if you'll regard in a bipartisan way, we made it clear that we would not tolerate retaliation. neither side would tolerate that. it's been our policy. and i think as we look at these depositions that the chairman has planned, we may want to make sure we get to the bottom of that. i know the epa is looking at it
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and the fbi is looking at it. but perhaps we want to consider that. >> and i would concur and encourage people to feel retaliated against for telling the truth and exposing the reality of what happened, come talk to us. both sides of the aisle. there is no way we're going to stand for that. we're going to have your back and make sure that the truth gets out there. you should not be retaliated. there are whistleblower protections in place in congress for us doing our jobs. please, pass that a word along. we will now recognize the gentleman from michigan ms. lawrence for five minutes. >> thank you. mr. craigh, january 29th, ranking member cummings and myself said 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
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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's a february 11th date and i'm aware the governor's office is reviewing that document. >> i have a question about this issue of privacy. can you explain in the state of michigan what exactly is the role of the michigan department environmental equality. once advised by epa, which did happen in this situation, what is the responsibility based on the state of michigan law? >> the state of michigan has statutes that mirror the safe drinking water act to allow us to enforce laws in the state of
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michigan. we have primacy for enforcing the lead and copper rule in the safe drinking water act. and as i said in my testimony, the u.s. epa sets the standards, oversees the programming, conducts yearly audits. >> so with the law and your responsibility, you are now in the position, what failed in inacting the law? and can you explain to me why a response to epa on the february 26 advising the state of michigan that there were high levels of lead or corrosion in the flint water? >> it's the question of the day. and that's what many of the auditors and reviewers will have. who made decisions when? and that's when i said we need to have a thorough
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investigation. as i mentioned in my testimony, the city runs the plan. they certify that the samples are consistent with the lead and copper rule. we oversee that. and then we work with epa on standards and conversations. >> so are you saying the city is responsible for not responding? because if i follow the information, it came from epa directly to the michigan department of environmental quality advising you about the flint water. >> if i could say differently, we all share a responsibility in the flint water crisis, whether it's a city, the state or the federal government. we all let the citizens of flint down. and that's what the commitment is, is to make sure that we solve that problem. you heard dr. edwards talk about the lead and copper rule. the citizens of flint shouldn't
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have to worry about the lead and copper rule. they should have fresh, safe drinking water. >> you knew in the position, you are new in the position, and we heard clearly the issue of epa. what are you doing in the state of michigan to respond to this? what are the improvements and what are you doing? >> thank you for that question. so first and foremost as you know, there is epa's water task force that weekly calls with bob kaplan, the regional administrator for the u.s. epa. our commitment is there is no difference of opinion on regulation or implementation. i meet weekly with mayor weaver in the water treatment facility operator to make sure we are once again in line for any implementation. we have implemented the and have had conversations, i visited with miguel a couple times
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already since i have been there talking about the epa water task force to make sure we get it right. it's a very 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 the result as it seems to be by the city's test results. this group specializes in looking for higher lead problems. and we keep saying this, it's the question of the day has anyone been held accountable? >> yes, there's accountability throughout the system. as you know, there's been some changes at the deq. there's been suspensions at the deq and everyone deserves due process. >> so my question is if it's the question of the day, you are obviously holding some people accountable. you should know what happened.
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and it shouldn't move from being a question to actually being documented. because how can you discipline someone or hold them accountable if you do not have clear information and failure of their job? >> i appreciate that question. and we do have clear standards. we have clear accountabilities. we have a clear path forward. we are working in conjunction with both the city, state and federal government to resolve this so it does not happen again. >> i think i'm going to hear that a couple times today. thank you to miss walters. you being here today, your passion going above and beyond the amazing job that you have as a parent and your considered 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.
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so i just want to thank you for being here. >> we'll now recognize the gentleman from michigan for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you to the panel. it's outrageous that this sort of government-made catastrophe would happen anywhere in the united states. and i agree with my democratic colleagues that we need an independent nonpartisan investigation. the state of michigan needs to provide comprehensive assistance to the people of flint. and the state has the resources, i can assure you that as a former state legislator. the state spends $33 million on the pure michigan ad campaign yet has provided only $28 million to make sure that the people of flint have pure water. so the state has the resources, the state needs to make it right. i've never liked the emergency manager law. it takes power away from the
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people of the community. it's disappointing that former emergency manager early had his attorney tell us when he received the subpoena for the attendance here that it borders on nonsensical to accept that subpoena to come here. what's nonsensical, what is disappointing is that one of the people who is probably most culpable for the situation won't take responsibility for it. and i think he needs to appear here and i would like to have some more people here. and it's unfortunate that -- this is an esteemed panel, and we only have the four of you. so my first question is for mr. creagh. and ms. lawrence touched on
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this. what rule does the michigan deq have in implementing and enforcing safe drinking water standards. i just want to get to the bottom of of it. is it the primary role? >> yes, we have the primary role to oversee compliance with the safe drinking water act and lead and copper rule. >> what role does the michigan deq have in the process of bringing a water treatment plant back online? it's my understanding that the flint treatment plant was offline for a long period of time. >> actually, the flint treatment plant has a long history. it was a primary source, i believe, before 1967. i think it's been in existence since 1903. i think it's been a backup. i think it's tested on a quarterly basis to ensure safe drinking water standards. so it was going from a backup to a primary. actually, state law does not
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require additional permits for that to occur in and of itself. >> so what role does the deq have in that process of bringing it back online? >> they would apply to us to get permits for modifications to the plant. >> and when a city decides to change its water source, how does it impact the michigan deq? >> i think it's impossible to go from one water source to another. so the rigor should have been more when the water source changed. >> my next question is for professor edwards. we know that not enough phosphates were added to the water to make it less corrosive. what's the cost of treating the water with an appropriate amount of phosphates? >> when a switch was made, there was no phosphate added at all.
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there was no corrosion control. federal law was not followed. >> no phosphates at all. >> nothing. >> had they done the minimum allowed under the law, they could have continued the phosphates in detroit water. it would have cost $8200 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? >> it's the law. you have to have a corrosion control plan. that's why we have the law. this disaster would not have occurred if the phosphate had been added. and that includes the legionalle outbreak. the leaks in the plumbing system. in general, the corrosion control, for every dollar you spend on it you save $10. but in flint's situation for every dollar they would have spent on it they would have easily saved a thousand dollars.
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so my only explanation is that it probably did start innocently in the chaos of the turnover and someone simply forgot to follow the law. >> and not including the phosphates is a problem regardless of the water source, whether the flint river or some other water source? >> well, you don't have to use phosphate. there are alternative approaches one can use including p.h. and alkalinity use. but you have to have a plan and are supposeded to be optimizing it to make sure you're protecting your pipes, you're protecting your people. >> and if you started to send these phosphates or other chemicals through the water to fix the problem, how long would it take? >> well, it's quite likely that right now even after a few months of phosphate dosing that the coating has been largely restored. and that if a federally improved copper sample was done today there's a pretty good chance
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flint would pass, i can't say, but until they actually do that testing, we have to err on the side of caution and assume the water is not safe to drink. flint has never done a lead and copper testing according to federal regulations like many cities across the united states. and the reason is they never did the first step that was required under the rule in 1997 which is to identify high-risk homes from which you have to sample. what's become clear in flint is they've never followed that first step and therefore, frankly, all of their sampling results are invalid. >> thank you for your testimony. my time is expired. >> i thank the gentleman. now recognize ms. norton from washington, d.c. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. i would like to promptly convene this hearing. ms. walters, you are the only hero in this episode. and it turns out to be a
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citizen. so on behalf of those of us on this panel and i'm sure the citizens of flint, i can only thank you. and in our case, it was "the washington post" and i should indicate what the point of my questions are. this really should be a problem solving exercise. blame is pretty clear. the responsibility of epa is going back to the crisis in the nation's capital now in flint and having those in the state i think has to be admitted. i want to alert my colleagues of the national implications of this hearing. because if a high-profile lead
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episode 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 in engaging in some of the tests that we have best heard described here. in the district, there were late term miscarriages and spontaneous abortions after an unusually high level of lead was found in the water between 2000 and 2003. when a corrosion controlled sub stance was added to the water, miscarriages and spontaneous abortions reverted to the normal rate. ours was somewhat different. we have heard briefly about
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flushing. at least i understand from the testimony that there is a rule that says you can't pre-flush. but, of course, the epa doesn't know if people are pre-flushing at all and were pre-flushing. and that suggests to indicate what pre-flushing means, you're flushing away the lead. then you test. why? that is a liberal close to criminal act. mr. bobay, is there monitoring of pre-flushing, just that one notion. and i don't mean that you go into every jurisdiction, i mean the kinds of scientific monitoring that lets you know whether pre-flushing is going on by the epa. >> the epa task force in flint has provided clear guidance to the meq. >> do you monitor whether or not at this moment pre-flushing is
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going on in jurisdictions, for example, that my colleagues represent? >> prestagnation flushing is a concern that dr. edwards and others have brought to our concern and it is something we are looking closely at right now in our oversight activities across the country. >> so the answer is no. so watch out, everybody. when you're told that there is no lead in your water, they could be pre-flushing because nobody's looking to see whether pre-flushing is going on. mr. creagh, you do concede that you weren't there at the time, but then you go back to the lead and copper rule, and you talk about epa and its urgency. the only official that has been cited here for understanding that there was a problem with mr. deltoro of the epa. so i can understand there's no consensus on the lead and copper rule. but let's look at the common sense way that corrosion is
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controlled, i tell you not, only in the district of columbia but i'm sure all over the united states. you are not asserting, are you, mr. creagh, that you somehow needed to get a consensus in the lead and copper rule before deciding on corrosion control when you changed sources of water? >> i did not. >> could i ask you this, we know that this is a billion-dollar problem that you go to changing everybody's lead pipes. in addition, we have this terrible situation where people actually went to further trouble of changing the lead pipes in their own home and it made the land worse. because unless the city deals with a lead pipe going from your home, then not only does that add to the problem but it makes the problem worse.
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so watch out for changing of lead pipes all over the united states of america. your pipes are full of lead. neither the federal government nor your state and federal government should have been pressing this, should have been getting money for this. you should have been adding money of your own to change types or to use roles, that's the problem in our ancient water system. so i want to know how to get a quick fix now. these people are not going to remove themselves from flint. they can't sell their homes now. nobody wants to come to flint, an already troubled area. 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're not yanking out every pipe. they're using the substance.
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are you committed to using the substance? what is the cost of this substance and how early can this chemical to control the lead keep it from reaching 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 was added on december 9th to increase the potential to phosphate those pipes. that's in progress in being done. >> is the water now safe to drink? >> we cannot guarantee at this point in time the water is safe to drink. so if you could, mr. chairman, could i -- >> sure. >> elaborate just a little bit. >> the gentleman's time is expired but please answer the question. >> so we have mapped the parcels in flint that we know of. there's 56,000 parcels. we put them on the gis database,
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if you will, to dr. edwards' point. there's uncertainty as to where there's lead service lines. out of 30,000 known, there's reported to be 5200 of those. so what we're doing is we're overlaying that information and offloading the information while going door to door and knocking on doors and talking to individuals, those that would be willing to be part of a sample. we're then putting three-person teams in the homes of a person of a plumber. someone who can address how to take a sample so you don't pre-flush. so it's a life mouth bottle and you pick them up on routine bases so we can do that. and we're working with the epa task force to see what kind of timed interval makes sense before you can make that declarative statement. >> thank you, gentleman. now i'll recognize the chairman for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. it's good to follow the young lady from the district because i
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was here in '95 when you took over the district, put in a control board. at that time, if you think flint is bad, the district -- they 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 that were in the district's care. there are 60,000 people employed by the district. we had a crack-smoking mayor. we had half a billion running. about a half a billion running deficit. you don't have a federal government in flint to take that up, so flint isn't being picked on. i remember when you had to boil the water. i remember when the young lady said the water was not safe to drink in this building. they taped the water fountains up and told people to boil the
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water. in government we have a fundamental responsibility and that is this glass of water, that is our responsibility to make sure that water is pure and drinkable. just for members' information, i called 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. and the committee just asked the superintendent to give us the information from the last 15 or 20 years. because i think we have a right to know if it's safe here in the nation's capital. so i'm telling you that you are not being picked on alone. but when you look at this, and the district was taken over by a control board. there was not even a local vote. representative kildee said there was a 7-1 vote as i understand to let this happen. there's really nothing wrong
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with that water from the flint river, was there, mr. edwards? >> if it was properly treated. if the minimum -- >> if the water tested when it came out of the plant was fine. what happened was, and 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, that's about $30,000 a year. it was not $50 million being cited or cut or something. for that much money, we poisoned the kids in flint, didn't we? that's what we did. and we have -- she has properly termed a citizen and hero. she's a citizen hero. she stepped up, ms. walters, thank god that you stepped up. you persisted. look at the timeframe, though. they had the opportunity to act to put the phosphate in to
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control the degradation of the pipes. that wasn't done. she alerted them. and that was back in -- when did you do that? what month? >> that was in march of 2015. >> in 2015 and it went on and on -- >> do you know why the phosphates were not added? >> why? >> because they did not have the equipment at the treatment plant to add the phosphate. >> again, it's a simple solution that should have been placed in place. and the state or the federal government. and you got blown off by the locals, right? >> yes, sir. >> you got blown off by the state, right? >> yes, sir. >> and you went to the federal government and they failed you, right? >> everybody but mr. deltoro, sir. >> yes, exactly. this is just unacceptable. we have a responsibility that these kids -- now, everybody's talked about blaming accountability and we should hold these people accountability. now we have the kids who have drunk this water and are bathed
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in this water. every kid in that community should be tested. and then if there's residual results, don't you think someone should be responsible? it should be the state government, the federal government, the local government. it should be responsible to make certain those kids now and in the future are -- well, first we need to test them. is that underway, mr. creagh? >> yes, there's 15 available. >> okay. and then we should set aside a fund or whatever because we should make certain that these kids are taken care of. and then, mr. edwards said this is going on not just in flint, but it's going on in d.c., durham, we heard testimony today and it needs to stop. and we need to make certain the system works. like mr. edwards? >> that's correct. >> right, mr. creagh? >> that's correct. >> and you're new on the block.
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>> yes, sir. >> thank you, we appreciate what you did. thank you. >> the audience is reminded to hold their applause, please. now we'll recognize the chairman from mr. virginia for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. we aught to be clear about flint. arguably one of the worst municipal and environmental tragedies in the modern era in the united states. and it was manmade. and it is the actually of implementing a political philosophy of social dollars, of smaller government, of rabid anti-regulation. of attack after attack after attack on the epa because our financeers don't like it.
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let's be very clear how flint happened. it did not happy accident. and it was not a 7-1 vote to switch the source of water. that wasn't a vote to switch water authorities. they didn't vote on going to the river. those who want to argue with nothing wrong with the water, just add phosphate to it, please, send a liter of that water to every one of my colleagues who want to take that position and watch them drink it. this is the consequence of putting ideology ahead of human beings. and their needs and their welfare. the difference in political philosophy matters. political choices have consequences. and flint is the most dramatic in our generation. i do lay this at the doorstep of
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those who share that philosophy. and i want to see the governor at this table. if you're so passionate about holding people accountable, an god knows we have done that in the seven years i've been on this committee, then let's have the governor snyder at this table explaining himself. mr. creagh, in october of last year, the governor appointed a task force. the flint water advisory task force. and this is their report to the governor, is that correct? >> they have issued some interim letters to the governor. >> but it's a governor's appointed task force, is that correct or not? >> yes, sir. >> and let me see, in december 29, that interim letter you refer said, and i quote, we believe primer responsibility for what happened in flint rests with your department, the deq, although many individuals at state and local levels contributed to creating a
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prolonging of the problem. the michigan department of environmental equality government agency has the responsibility for safe drinking water in michigan. it failed in that responsibility and must be held accountable for their failure. did you read -- are you aware of that finding? >> i read the letter and met with the committee several times. >> do you take issue with it? >> i do not. >> so you agree e? >> in retrospect i agree. >> okay. they then said they actually characterized your agency's response, quote, and a bismol public response to the crisis, unquote. do you agree we that characterization? >> in wetspect i think that the auditor general agrees with that. we were minimalistic in our behavior. >> mr. edwards, is the primary response here epas or deqs, how
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does it work? >> without question the primary responsibility is those paid to protect michigan's citizens from lead and water. that's their job. and that lies exclusively with the mdeq. >> and professor edwards, just for the record. because we're seeing a little mushyness about that. and in terms of water quality, isn't that how it works? the epa relies on state deqs, certainly in our state, virginia, to carry out the responsibility of the water quality primarily, is that not the case? >> that's correct. >> and in this case, were there warning flags at all for michigan deq about switching the source of water before they did it? >> well, if there weren't before they did it, as soon as they made the switch, there was warning sign after warning sign. >> and what did they do with those warning signs? >> they denied and denied and denied that there was a problem.
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>> and that put ms. walters, people at risk, is that not true? >> i give you the last word on how this happened. >> yes. it did put us at risk. it wasn't my job to figure out that there was no corrosion control in the water. they should have known that from the start. >> you had a reasonable expectation, did you not, that you could rely on the government to protect you and your family? >> yes, i did. >> thank you very much. i yield back. >> now i recognize the gentleman from arizona, mr. gozart, for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. the administrator, thank you for appearing today. when did the high levels appear in flint's water? >> indications in spring 2015 with the testing of ms. walter's and the neighbor's house. very high levels were found there. >> i understand the concept, i deal with a lot with water, that the epa, the environmental
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quality, but it's set up as a checks and balances, wouldn't you agree? >> the epa has an oversight responsibility. >> would you agree, mr. edwards? >> yes, i do. >> if something fails, there's another line that should come about. so i'm going along this line of epa. when did epa, administrator mccarthy, first visit flint about this crisis? >> i believe that yesterday was administrator mccarthy's first visit to flint. >> it wasn't until yesterday he visited for the first time. hmm. so the day before this hearing. so administrator mccarthy knew about this crisis for eight months but didn't visit flint until the day before a congressional hearing. >> i don't believe that administrator mccarthy knew about the crisis for eight months. >> really? something dynamic as this and you didn't relay that up the chain? >> well, i came into this job in november of 2015. so i don't have personal knowledge about the communications that were done. >> what is today?
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>> today is -- >> february 2016, right? to me, when you prioritize, by the way, i'm a health care provider, i'm a dentist, you triage things like this. this is a dynamic tragedy. it's an ongoing problem. wouldn't you agree? >> i agree. >> so wouldn't you put the highest priority on that application to figure out how, what went wrong and accept some of the blame and try to go forward, would you not? >> this absolutely is our highest priority. >> it sure doesn't show it to me. if she knew in knew, it's february before she shows up in flint? >> the epa has been intensively engaged in this situation. >> it's the same old thing. you have to remember this is the same epa that knew about what was going to happen in a mind blowout in colorado and now has a lot of people all the way down from colorado, utah, california and arizona all at risk because of some of their actions. so, yes, everybody -- they should take some of the blame but some of the blame goes to the epa and the head honcho.
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just like for me in my office, if somebody comes into my office and something goes wrong, i'm accountable for that. i find it despicable that geena mccarthy shows up in flint yesterday instead of going there 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 bovet discussed this in an e-mail in july 2015 stating it was a draft stating that the them know never should have been released from the hierarchy. dr. headman has resigned, correct? >> she has since resigned to make sure the epa could be fully focused on the reaction in flint. >> why wasn't she fired? >> i can't answer that question.
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she stepped aside to make sure we can focus all our attention -- >> make sure the administrator has that question because we'll ask when the administrator is here. why wasn't she fired? the initial memo was sent on june 24th. this was a final memo. with the final memo of a release? >> i believe it was released in october. >> november. >> november. >> was it a comprehensive memo that details the chronicness and dynamic aspect of this tragedy? >> this particular memo that mr. deltoro did was focus on the testing of lead at ms. walter's house and the neighboring homes. >> and this memo is not nearly comprehensive aspect -- and would you consider it a show of release? >> the memo was focused on the specific testing that was done at ms. walter's house and the neighboring homes and was a comprehensive look at that situation. it is not the entirety of the
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epa's review of the situation. >> i appreciate your testimony today. you are one person today that has accepted some responsibility and your governor is the same in this crisis even though there's fault all the way across. that's commendable. do you believe this incident would have occurred had the flint city council voted to change its water source? >> i think this incident occurred because of the lack of a phosphate being added. >> but if you never made the change, you never would have had this catastrophic event, right? >> that's a true statement. >> what would have happened if the city would have followed the direction of the water you tellty consultant? >> there were a couple of different consultants that would have minimized the problem. >> and what would have happened in the city followed the corrosive, proper corrosive treatment? >> as dr. edwards stated, we
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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 humblingly bad, that the government is not being part of the solution here. with that i yield back. >> thank the gentleman. now recognize the ranking member, mr. cummings. >> i was going to let mr. cartwright go, mr. creagh, i'm getting very concerned about your testimony because i want 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
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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 the governor 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 blame the city of flint, this sounds like you're 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 water authority, end of quote. mr. creagh, do you agree with governor snyder's statement?
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>> 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 -- >> i'm not finished. just hold on. i'm not finished. we received -- we reviewed the resolution passed by the city council and the minutes from the meeting. at no point during 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. neeley who served on the city council from 2005 to 2014. he was actually there. he was there, mr. creagh, all right?
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in his letter mr. neeley explains that the city council did not -- can we have the letter? where's the letter? you got it? where's the letter? oh, they have it. in his letter mr. neeley 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 emergency manager, end of quote. who was appointed by the governor. he also says this and i quote -- did you need something? okay. would you please. >> we'll enter the record without objection. >> you're making me nervous with your finger. 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.
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mr. creagh, are you aware of mr. kurtz's actions? >> no, sir, i was not in the seat at the time. >> and, mr. creagh, so mr. neeley also wrote, 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 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. now, let me ask you -- i'm not finished. do you have any reason to believe that mr. neeley is not telling the truth? >> i have no reason to believe. >> now, mr. neeley's letter is supported by statements from flint's former mayor dane
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walling. on january 22nd, 2016, he stated and i quote, 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 wallington's statement? >> i am not. >> all right. based on the evidence it seems that governor snyder was trying to blame the city of 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 people paying right now in flint for water they cannot wash in and cannot use and cannot drink? are they paying water bills? and is it a part of the recovery -- you said you want to make them whole. is that part of it? why are they -- why would they be paying for water that they
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cannot even use that is poisoning them? that's not america! as mr. chairman said, this is not a third world country! are they paying those bills? are you going to relieve them of that? >> everyone deserves safe drinking water and that's the expectation. and yesterday the governor introduced a supplemental for $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
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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 do you know what, mr. creagh, and mr. chairman, they are also americans. they're also americans, just like you and just like your children. and i don't -- and 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, i want everybody who is responsible for this fiasco to be held accountable. i'm not protecting anybody because that's not our job! we are the last line of defense! and if we don't do it, nobody's going to do it! i yield back. >> thank the gentleman. now recognize the gentleman from north carolina, mr. meadows, for five minutes. >> thank you, mr. chairman. thank you, ms. walters, for your testimony.
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truly it has made a profound difference in such a way -- i'm from north carolina. a long way away from flint, michigan, but in a way we're connected. i got texts this morning from people who have been affected by region four, not region five, but with water quality issues for years and the epa's failure to address them. now, the troubling thing for me is, is that what i hear from our water quality epa official is that they're going to just let the office of inspector general do their work. now, the problem with that is -- and i have high regard for that particular inspector general. in fact, i can tell you, ms. walters, that they will continue to look at it in a very detailed way. but it will not be enough.
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there is more than enough blame to go around. the problem is there's not enough answers to be shared. and so i'm going to come to the epa and ask you, since foia is under my subcommittee and the foia request allows the public to look at documents, often used in a regular basis by reporters, and i'm troubled to hear that the foia request that dr. edwards has made has actually you haven't complied with the law. what do you say to that? >> my understanding is that we're actively working in due -- >> active is not enough. let me just tell you, we got families that are suffering, and there's a law that says that you have to respond, within 21 days. so, what do you say to dr.
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edwards, who's been requesting information, because as i understand, dr. edwards, if you will help me with this, that you've made requests both of the state and of the feds. who have been more responsive to you, dr. edwards? >> the state of michigan has been very responsive. >> and so, how many documents of what you've requested from the epa have you received to date? >> i'd have to check, but i still have foias outstanding from nine years ago in washington, d.c., that i appealed in 2005 and an attorney from epa just contacted me one month ago about so -- >> nine years. >> nine years. >> let me tell you the trouble i have with this. we have a site in western north carolina called cts. you're familiar with that it, i'm sure, aren't you? >> i have heard about the site. i do not have direct personal knowledge about it. >> i would ask since you're new to the job you get some personal


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