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Blame game begins in Flint water crisis hearing as Rep. Dan Kildee testifies

Congressman Dan Kildee
Photo courtesy of the Office of Congressman Dan Kildee

The Flint water crisis has come to Capitol Hill as Rep. Dan Kildee, D-Mich., was one of the first to testify today before the U.S. House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. The hearing seeks to find out how the city’s drinking water was contaminated with elevated levels of lead.

Shortly after his testimony, Rep. Kildee spoke to Cynthia Canty on Stateside, and said he hopes the facts of the situation are brought to light.

“The state of Michigan was in charge of Flint, and the state of Michigan was responsible for enforcing the federal requirements on drinking water, which means that the state of Michigan is principally responsible for what went wrong,” said Rep. Kildee.

According to Rep. Kildee, who is based in Flint, many are attempting to shift the blame to the federal government.

“There is an effort right now to create a false equivalency between the federal government and the state government, in terms of their roles in this,” said Rep. Kildee. “The federal government does have responsibility. I wish they would have acted better, but that doesn’t mean that they have equal responsibility and I’m just hopeful that the committee members see that and that the people in Flint and Michigan see that, so we know where to turn to get the help that Flint needs to move forward.”

Rep. Kildee is hoping that the attention Flint has been receiving could help get other support, such as a bill that he has proposed that would require the EPA to provide a public notice when they have evidence of elevated lead levels or other problems in the city’s water system.

Detroit Free Press Capitol Hill reporter Todd Spangler was at the hearing and said there was a lot of finger pointing during Wednesday’s proceedings.

“What’s very clear from the record, is that up until a month or so ago, both the state and the EPA were singing the same song,” said Spangler. “There was a difference of opinion about whether or not corrosion control was needed up front or not, but at some point even the state said ‘Yeah, they made a mistake, they should have required it up front.’ In recent weeks … it’s really changed. The EPA has gotten far more strident about the state’s mistakes. The state has gotten far more loud about what they consider EPA’s failures.”

Listen to the interview below to get more of Spangler’s first-hand analysis from the hearing, find out who was there, and what the next step is for the hearing.

Listen to an interview with Todd Spangler from the Detroit Free Press.

Josh Hakala, a lifelong Michigander (East Lansing & Edwardsburg), comes to Michigan Radio after nearly two decades of working in a variety of fields within broadcasting and digital media.
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