LANSING, Mich. — Today Senator Jim Ananich (D–Flint) and Representative Jeff Irwin (D–Ann Arbor) called for key Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (MDEQ) employees to appear before the joint Flint water investigative committee.
At the committee’s first hearing this week, the auditor general and his panel spent a great deal of time reviewing the report from their investigation, but were unable to answer multiple questions — repeatedly deferring to the MDEQ. Because of this, Democratic committee members suggested the auditor general submit written responses to the committee for any of their outstanding questions, and that the next hearing be devoted to focusing on the MDEQ’s role in the Flint water crisis.
“We still have a lot of unanswered questions,” Sen. Ananich said. “It’s clear that we need to have before our committee those at the MDEQ who the auditor general investigated. Hearing directly from these key decision makers will help us put more of the pieces together so we can start getting answers and understand why this happened.”
Both Sen. Ananich and Rep. Irwin stressed the importance of having MDEQ Director Keith Creagh and former MDEQ Director Dan Wyant appear, as well as other key employees who had direct roles in the handling of Flint’s water source switch and response to the problems it created, including:
Members of Congress criticized the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) during the Flint water hearings this week — specifically for failing to take over the MDEQ when it became clear that the state organization was incapable or unwilling to protect citizens.
“We’ve read the reports and reviewed the emails, and so far we see a troubling pattern of state officials interpreting the Safe Drinking Water Act in ways that fail to protect the public,” Rep. Irwin said. “Now, we need to hear from the officials themselves to explain the pattern of misinterpretations that lead to the Flint Water Crisis.”
Ranking members of the House Committee of Oversight and Government Reform also took Governor Snyder to task for his employees’ failure to comply with congressional requests. Additionally, they cited Attorney General Schuette for preventing a number of invited witnesses to participate in hearings — including several of those listed above.
For future committee hearings, Sen. Ananich and Rep. Irwin said they would like to call all former emergency managers, Governor Snyder and others before the committee.
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