Examining Federal Administration of the Safe Drinking Water Act in Flint, Michigan, Part 3

Full House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform
Hearing Date: March 17, 2016 9:00 am 2154 Rayburn House Office Building

TAKEAWAYS:

  • Chairman Chaffetz and other members of the Committee called on U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator McCarthy to resign.
  • EPA refuses to take responsibility for not taking quick and decisive action in Flint and has not held anyone accountable for their failures. Administrator McCarthy refused to answer whether she would have removed Susan Hedman as Region 5 Administrator had she not resigned. Further, Administrator McCarthy stood by her comments calling Hedman’s decision to resign ‘courageous.’
  • EPA has failed to significantly update the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) and the Lead and Copper rule since 1991 despite the law requiring EPA to “review and revise the rule at least every six years. EPA’s latest estimate for completing a final rule is not until 2018.

PURPOSE:

  • To examine the ongoing situation in Flint, Michigan.
  • To review the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) administration of the Safe Drinking Water Act (SDWA) in Flint, Michigan.

BACKGROUND:

  • Chairman Chaffetz first announced an additional hearing on February 12, 2016.
  • On February 3, 2016, the Committee held its first hearing on the Flint crisis, titled: Examining Federal Administration of the Safe Drinking Water Act in Flint, Michigan.
  • EPA Region 5 was aware of dangerously high levels of lead in Flint drinking water in April 2015, yet failed to act until January 2016 when they were forced to intervene.
  • EPA has an obligation to act under SDWA if the state is not in compliance with national standards of oversight and enforcement of public water systems.
    • Flint resident and mother LeeAnn Walters testified on February 3rd that, “Susan Hedman cared more about policy than the welfare of an entire community…”
  • EPA Region 5 Administrator Susan Hedman announced her resignation effective February 1, 2016 and the EPA Office of Inspector General launched an investigation into the crisis.
  • The Committee previously examined mismanagement at the EPA with hearings held April 30 and July 29 in 2015.

 

KEY VIDEOS:

 Representative Tim Walberg (R-MI): “On September 26, 2015, you [EPA Administrator McCarthy] wrote an email to an EPA official that appeared in the AP last night – in fact, a report. You said, the situation in Flint could ‘get very big quickly.’ You didn’t act until January 21, 2016. Why?”

Subcommittee Chairman Mark Meadows (R-NC): “Now do you not see a problem with the fact that the law requires you to do a new rule every six years, at least revisit it, and that you haven’t revisited it in ten years. And that you keep changing the goalposts. Do you not see some fault there?”

Subcommittee Chairman John Mica (R-FL): “The [EPA] regional administrator is getting vacation time bonuses while the kids are getting poisoned. … This [EPA report] is dated in June and not a damn thing was done, until January of this year. … Now I heard calls for resignation – I think you [EPA Administrator McCarthy] should be at the top of the list.”

Witnesses and testimonies

Name Title Organization Panel Document
The Honorable Gina McCarthy Administrator U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Document
The Honorable Rick Snyder Governor State of Michigan Document

Related Documents

Name Document
Del Toral Emails Document
Governor Snyder Hearing Documents Document