On Friday, congressional Republicans quietly terminated a year-long investigation into Flint, Michigan’s water crisis, which had done little more than summarize previous findings in the first place.
“The committee found significant problems at Michigan’s Department of Environmental Quality and unacceptable delays in the Environmental Protection Agency’s response to the crisis,” wrote Republican Representative from Utah Jason Chaffetz, according to ABC News. “The committee also found that the federal regulatory framework is so outdated that it sets up states to fail.”
But, wait, it gets much worse, because even though the investigation didn’t actually dig up anything new, Chaffetz still asked the chairmen of committees that oversee congressional spending and the EPA to consider syphoning off funds now directed toward fighting climate change to fix the nation’s drinking water pipes. As if we can’t do both? He also requested stricter congressional oversight of the EPA (whose new function, under the impending Trump presidency, will be dismantling the environment one oil pipeline at a time).
On Wednesday, NPR reported that a year after Flint Mayor Karen Weaver declared a state pf emergency due to lead-tainted drinking water, little progress has been made, and filtered water in Flint is still not safe to drink.
Flint’s water woes date back all the way to April 2014, when the city switched its water source from the Detroit water system to the Flint River in order to save money. The water wasn’t safe to drink long before December 2015, due to lead from old pipes that made its way into the water supply, but regulators failed to take basic precautions and respond to the problem in a timely fashion. The crisis is now estimated to have affected 100,000 Flint residents.
Weaver voiced her frustration to NPR, explaining, “We’re in year three, actually, of not being able to drink water, and that still makes no sense to me, and it shouldn’t make sense to anybody else.”
Last week, after a year wasting time arguing about how much to help these people whose government betrayed them and blighted their water supply, Congress passed legislation that should provide $170 million to deal with the Flint crisis and assist other communities suffering lead-contaminated water.
Despite the approved payout towards Flint’s infrastructure, there were many good reasons to keep the investigation open. For instance, Democratic Representative Elijah Cummings of Maryland told ABC News that Michigan Governor Rick Snyder is still holding out on supplying key documents implicating him in the crisis. Without congressional pressure on Snyder, those documents will likely never come to light.