Former Michigan Governor Rick Snyder has been charged on two counts of willful neglect of duty for his role in the Flint water crisis, a disaster that exposed more than 100,000 residents of the majority Black city to contaminated drinking water.
If convicted, Snyder faces up to a year in jail and a $1,000 fine per charge, which seems pretty light for overseeing a hazard that killed 12 people and impacted the health of untold others.
Snyder headed the state in 2014, when officials decided to switch the source of the city’s drinking water from Detroit’s water system to the Flint River as a move to save money. Unfortunately, officials neglected to apply corrosion inhibitors, and as a result, lead from the aging pipes entered the water supply, leading residents to ingest extremely high doses of heavy metals.
In 2017, charges were filed against several state officials, including the head of the state’s health department, Nick Lyon, who was charged with involuntary manslaughter. But two years later, all criminal charges were dropped against Lyon and seven others.
“I want to remind the people of Flint that justice delayed is not always justice denied and a fearless and dedicated team of career prosecutors and investigators are hard at work to ensure those who harmed you are held accountable,” Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessel said in a statement at the time.
Last spring, the state agreed to a $600 million settlement to Flint residents whose health was affected by the toxic water.