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Congress will grill the EPA on Flint, but not Snyder

user Bjoertvedt

Governor Snyder will not be called to testify at a Congressional hearing next week looking into the Flint water crisis.

Instead, the spotlight will be on the EPA.

On Thursday, the Republican leadership of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform announced the hearings would be focused on “Examining the Federal Administration of the Safe Drinking Water Act in Flint, Michigan.”

A witness list hasn't been published yet, but it's safe to bet one person who will be on it: Susan Hedman, the former EPA region 5 director, who resigned recently over the handling of Flint's water. 

The Republican chairman of the Oversight Committee, Rep. Jason Chaffetz of Utah, sent out this statement when Hedman stepped down earlier this month: 

“EPA is rife with incompetence and Region 5 is no exception. Mismanagement has plagued the region for far too long and Ms. Hedman's resignation is way overdue. The lack of accountability throughout the EPA has allowed problems to fester and crises to explode. One resignation will not change the top to bottom scrubbing EPA needs, but it is a step in the right direction.”

EPA Region 5 director Susan Hedman (file photo).
Credit Steve Carmody / Michigan Radio
Michigan Radio
Former EPA region 5 director Susan Hedman will likely be called to testify before congress about Flint

Meanwhile, Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence (D-Michigan) says she's "outraged" that Snyder will not be called to testify, which she says she specifically requested when she first called for Flint hearings.

"Gov. Rick Snyder was at the top of my list of witnesses due to the central role that he has played in this manmade crisis," Rep. Lawrence said in a statement Wednesday. "From the decision to shift from Flint's original water source for cost-savings to the appalling delay in response to months of complaints by lead-poisoned residents and their children."

Lawrence blames "party politics" on the part of the Republican majority, which has leadership of the oversight committee.

"I am deeply disappointed at the Majority's lack of commitment to a thorough and meaningful hearing. A sincere search for truth and justice requires a full review by the entire Committee of the decisions and policies of all those involved," Lawrence says. 

Kate Wells is a Peabody Award-winning journalist currently covering public health. She was a 2023 Pulitzer Prize finalist for her abortion coverage.
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