March 17, 2016

WE’RE FROM THE GOVERNMENT, AND WE’RE HERE TO HELP YOU: Was EPA Unwilling to ‘Go Out on a Limb’ for Flint?

In the depth of Flint, Mich.’s water crisis – months after federal and state officials learned that the city’s tap water showed alarming levels of lead and bacteria but months before they alerted the public – an U.S. Environmental Protection Agency official discouraged a colleague from using federal money to buy water filters for the city residents.

“I’m not so sure Flint is the community we want to go out on a limb for,” Region 5 Water Division Branch Chief Debbie Baltazar wrote to the regional administrator and others, in a September email disclosed at a congressional hearing Tuesday. Baltazar went on to express concerns about the city’s past use of sewer and water fees for other priorities.

Members of the Committee on Oversight and Government Reform said this and other documents showed a pattern of indifference among federal and state officials toward the plight of the residents of Flint – a largely African American community that is among the poorest and most crime-ridden cities in the country.

“Was this driven by race? Was this driven by the fact that this was a poor city? Was this because they were underserved?” Chairman Justin Chaffetz, R-Utah asked during opening statements.

“Why isn’t Flint the community they go to? Of all the communities out there, the one having the toughest time is the one that needs the most protection.”

Why is the EPA so racist?

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