DETROIT – The latest on developments in the lead contamination of Flint’s water (all times local):
Leaders of the House Energy and Commerce Committee are asking state and federal environmental officials for information and documents related to the water crisis in Flint, Michigan.
Republican Rep. Fred Upton of Michigan and Democrat Frank Pallone of New Jersey sent letters to the Environmental Protection Agency and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality Wednesday seeking information on Flint. Upton chairs the energy panel while Pallone is the senior Democrat.
The lawmakers are asking a series of questions, including details on how the two agencies are responding to the crisis and whether it is possible to coat lead pipes in Flint to reduce lead in the drinking water to safe levels and how long that would take if so.
The letters seek answers by Feb. 17.
Michigan retailer Meijer Inc. says it’s donating $500,000 to three Flint nonprofits involved in relief efforts related to the crisis caused by lead in the city’s drinking water.
The Grand Rapids-based company announced Wednesday it’s contributing $250,000 to the Flint Child Health and Development Fund. The fund involves several philanthropic and health organizations. Meijer is also giving $125,000 to the United Way of Genesee County’s Flint Water Fund and $125,000 to the American Red Cross.
Meijer also has been co-ordinating the donation of numerous truckloads of bottled water to the city.
Improperly treated water leached lead from pipes into drinking water after Flint switched from Detroit’s water system to the Flint River in 2014 to save money. Testing has since showed high lead levels in some children.
A lawyer for Flint’s former emergency manager says there’s no reason for federal marshals to “hunt” for Darnell Earley.
Earley didn’t attend a U.S. House hearing Wednesday on lead contamination in Flint’s water supply. He was the city’s state-appointed manager when Flint stopped using water from Detroit and switched to the Flint River while a regional pipeline was being built to Lake Huron.
U.S. Rep. Jason Chaffetz urged marshals to “hunt him down” with a subpoena. Earley’s attorney, A. Scott Bolden, says it was “physically impossible” for him to appear at the hearing.
Bolden says he informed the committee that Earley would be willing to appear on another date, although Earley might invoke his right to remain silent.
Bolden says Earley “is in the eye of the storm.”
The acting chief of the Environmental Protection Agency’s water office has told Congress that the crisis in Flint caused by lead in drinking water was “avoidable” and that state officials resisted calls to deal with it.
Joel Beauvais said Wednesday that EPA’s regional staff urged Michigan officials “to address the lack of corrosion control” but that state officials delayed responding. He was testifying at the first hearing on Capitol Hill since the lead contamination crisis made national news last year.
The crisis has taken on partisan overtones. Democrats blame the Republican governor and some Republicans have targeted the EPA for failing to intervene sooner.
Michigan Department of Environmental Quality Director Keith Creagh (KRAY) says the EPA didn’t act with enough urgency.
Democratic U.S. Rep. Brenda Lawrence says all government failed Flint in providing a basic need.
Michigan legislative leaders are open to spending state funds to help pay the water bills of Flint residents, though a top Democrat says the amount should double to $60 million.
Republican Gov. Rick Snyder has proposed $30 million in funding to give residents a credit for the portion of their water-and-sewer bill that is for drinking, cooking and bathing water dating back to 2014.
Senate Majority Leader Arlan Meekhof said Wednesday that “there’s a good argument to be made” for the money because government failed residents.
Senate Minority Leader Jim Ananich of Flint says Michigan should fully cover water bills instead of a portion. He says it’s another example of the Snyder “looking at this from an overly technical view as opposed to a human view.”
The Republican-led Legislature would have to approve the water bill plan, which will be part of Snyder’s 2016-17 budget proposal. The state has allocated nearly $39 million in the current budget year to address Flint’s crisis.
Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder is proposing $30 million in state funding to help pay the water bills of Flint residents facing an emergency over the city’s lead-contaminated water supply.
Snyder will brief city officials and pastors in Flint about the proposal Wednesday and outline it to lawmakers in his annual budget proposal next week, according to a statement his office provided to The Associated Press.
The money would cover the portion of residential customers’ utility bills for water used for drinking, cooking, bathing and washing hands.
Snyder says Flint residents “will not have to pay for water they cannot drink.”
The Republican-led Legislature would have to approve the plan. The state has allocated nearly $39 million in the current budget year to address Flint’s crisis.
The top environmental regulator in Michigan says the state should have required the city of Flint to treat its water for corrosion after elevated lead levels were first discovered in the city’s water a year ago.
The director of the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality, Keith Creagh, calls the city’s failure to act in January 2015 a mistake.
But he says state officials were not the only ones who made mistakes in Flint.
Creagh says city officials did not follow proper protocol in conducting lead sampling of homes, and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency “did not display the sense of urgency that the situation demanded.”
The Associated Press obtained a copy of Creagh’s testimony in advance of Wednesday’s hearing before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee.